Hu et al. review current developments in therapeutic cancer vaccines and discuss the key vaccine components, including selected tumor antigens, vaccine formulations, DC-stimulating immune adjuvants, delivery vehicles, and other synergistic therapies. A current area of intensive effort is identifying tumor-specific somatic mutations and selecting candidate neoantigens to create multi-target vaccines. Such vaccines have been successfully tested in clinical trials in patients with melanoma and are currently being investigated in other tumor types.
Cancer vaccines, which are designed to amplify tumour-specific T cell responses through active immunization, have long been envisioned as a key tool of effective cancer immunotherapy. Despite a clear rationale for such vaccines, extensive past efforts were unsuccessful in mediating clinically relevant antitumour activity in humans. Recently, however, next-generation sequencing and novel bioinformatics tools have enabled the systematic discovery of tumour neoantigens, which are highly desirable immunogens because they arise from somatic mutations of the tumour and are therefore tumour specific. As a result of the diversity of tumour neoepitopes between individuals, the development of personalized cancer vaccines is warranted. Here, we review the emerging field of personalized cancer vaccination and discuss recent developments and future directions for this promising treatment strategy.