Review Article

Vaccine and immune cell therapy in non-small cell lung cancer

Helena Oliveres, Christian Caglevic, Francesco Passiglia, Simona Taverna, Evelien Smits, Christian Rolfo


Despite new advances in therapeutics, lung cancer remains the first cause of mortality among different types of malignancies. To improve survival, different strategies have been developed such as chemotherapy combinations, targeted therapies and more recently immunotherapy. Immunotherapy is based on the capability of the immune system to differentiate cancer cells from normal cells to fight against the tumor. The two main checkpoint inhibitors that have been widely studied in non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) are PD-1/PD-L1 and CTLA-4. However, interactions between tumor and immune system are much more complex with several different elements that take part and probably many new interactions to be discovered and studied for a better comprehension of those pathways. Vaccines are part of the prophylaxis and of the treatment for different infectious diseases. For that reason, they have allowed us to improve global survival worldwide. This same idea can be used for cancer treatment. First reports in clinical trials that used therapeutic vaccines in NSCLC were discouraging, but currently vaccines have a new chance in cancer therapy with the identification of new targetable antigens, adjuvant treatments and most interestingly, the combination of vaccines with anti-PD-1/PD-L1 and anti-CTLA-4 drugs. The aim of this article is to describe the scientific evidence that has been reported for the different types of vaccines and their mechanisms of action in the fight against NSCLC tumors to improve disease control.

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