Research Topic

Cancer Vaccines: Time to Think Differently!

About this Research Topic

The use of vaccines to induce prolonged, memory immune response has been extremely successful in preventing many, and often deadly, infectious diseases. However, unlike vaccines that are focused on triggering anti-cancer immunity, these vaccines are primarily designed to elicit humoral immune responses. In contrast, therapeutic anti-cancer vaccines aim to stimulate cellular immune responses and must overcome immunological self-tolerance to tumors, as well as immunosuppressive mechanisms in the tumor microenvironment.

Inducing a strong and long-lasting immune response capable of targeting primary or disseminated cancer cells requires the activation of both CD4+ and CD8+ T cells and depends on the choice of antigen against which immunity is to be triggered, as well as the mutation rate of the tumor antigens. Moreover, research has shown that the type of adjuvant and the route of vaccine administration may both strongly influence the magnitude and quality/robustness of the immune responses. Although classical vaccine adjuvants primarily provide a subcutaneous depot and antigen persistence, adjuvants for cancer vaccines may need to provide more specific targeting of professional APCs and tissues in order to overcome self-tolerance and to trigger cytotoxic CD8+ T-cell and NK cell responses. In this context, the co-delivery of additional immune-regulatory molecules and strategies may become compulsory. In addition, moving forward, cancer vaccines will most probably be complementary to current ‘standard of care’ treatments such as chemotherapy, radiotherapy, and surgery. Thus, the immune-modulatory effects of such treatments will need to be considered in the design and delivery of therapeutic vaccines. Finally, therapeutic success often depends on secondary environmental factors such as general health including psychological and microbiota status. Hence, the future success of vaccination against infectious agents or cancers may also have to take into consideration the patient’s well-being.

In this Research Topic, we welcome contributions not only from authors who are currently working on new types of adjuvants or combinatorial vaccines formulations but also from those who understand that the future success of cancer vaccination will need to take into account many other factors related to the treatment of cancer and living with cancer to contribute a manuscript. Contributions considered for publication in this Research Topic include Clinical Trials, Original Research, and Review articles focusing on:

1. Vaccine composition/adjuvants/delivery system/route of vaccination.
1.1. Neo-antigen versus shared antigen versus mutated antigen;
1.2. Sub-unit antigens versus attenuated or recombinant whole-cell antigens versus DC-based vaccines;
1.3. Tissue-targeting strategies for cancer vaccines and immunotherapeutics;
1.4. Adjuvant-driven triggering of specific immune-signaling pathways.

2. Combination therapies involving vaccine in combination with
2.1. Chemotherapy;
2.2. Radiotherapy;
2.3. Surgery;
2.4. Immune checkpoint inhibitors and other modifiers of the tumor immune microenvironment.

3. The potential impact of a patient’s health status on therapeutic responses and the manipulation of this to improve vaccine efficiency and efficacy.
3.1. The importance of microbiota;
3.2. The importance of psychological health;
3.3. The influence of lifestyle, e.g. diet and exercise

Dr. Alan G. Pockley is the CEO of Multimmune GmbH. Dr. Pal Johansen receives financial support from PCI Biotech. The other topic editors declare no competing interest with regards to the Research Topic theme.


Important Note: All contributions to this Research Topic must be within the scope of the section and journal to which they are submitted, as defined in their mission statements. Frontiers reserves the right to guide an out-of-scope manuscript to a more suitable section or journal at any stage of peer review.

The use of vaccines to induce prolonged, memory immune response has been extremely successful in preventing many, and often deadly, infectious diseases. However, unlike vaccines that are focused on triggering anti-cancer immunity, these vaccines are primarily designed to elicit humoral immune responses. In contrast, therapeutic anti-cancer vaccines aim to stimulate cellular immune responses and must overcome immunological self-tolerance to tumors, as well as immunosuppressive mechanisms in the tumor microenvironment.

Inducing a strong and long-lasting immune response capable of targeting primary or disseminated cancer cells requires the activation of both CD4+ and CD8+ T cells and depends on the choice of antigen against which immunity is to be triggered, as well as the mutation rate of the tumor antigens. Moreover, research has shown that the type of adjuvant and the route of vaccine administration may both strongly influence the magnitude and quality/robustness of the immune responses. Although classical vaccine adjuvants primarily provide a subcutaneous depot and antigen persistence, adjuvants for cancer vaccines may need to provide more specific targeting of professional APCs and tissues in order to overcome self-tolerance and to trigger cytotoxic CD8+ T-cell and NK cell responses. In this context, the co-delivery of additional immune-regulatory molecules and strategies may become compulsory. In addition, moving forward, cancer vaccines will most probably be complementary to current ‘standard of care’ treatments such as chemotherapy, radiotherapy, and surgery. Thus, the immune-modulatory effects of such treatments will need to be considered in the design and delivery of therapeutic vaccines. Finally, therapeutic success often depends on secondary environmental factors such as general health including psychological and microbiota status. Hence, the future success of vaccination against infectious agents or cancers may also have to take into consideration the patient’s well-being.

In this Research Topic, we welcome contributions not only from authors who are currently working on new types of adjuvants or combinatorial vaccines formulations but also from those who understand that the future success of cancer vaccination will need to take into account many other factors related to the treatment of cancer and living with cancer to contribute a manuscript. Contributions considered for publication in this Research Topic include Clinical Trials, Original Research, and Review articles focusing on:

1. Vaccine composition/adjuvants/delivery system/route of vaccination.
1.1. Neo-antigen versus shared antigen versus mutated antigen;
1.2. Sub-unit antigens versus attenuated or recombinant whole-cell antigens versus DC-based vaccines;
1.3. Tissue-targeting strategies for cancer vaccines and immunotherapeutics;
1.4. Adjuvant-driven triggering of specific immune-signaling pathways.

2. Combination therapies involving vaccine in combination with
2.1. Chemotherapy;
2.2. Radiotherapy;
2.3. Surgery;
2.4. Immune checkpoint inhibitors and other modifiers of the tumor immune microenvironment.

3. The potential impact of a patient’s health status on therapeutic responses and the manipulation of this to improve vaccine efficiency and efficacy.
3.1. The importance of microbiota;
3.2. The importance of psychological health;
3.3. The influence of lifestyle, e.g. diet and exercise

Dr. Alan G. Pockley is the CEO of Multimmune GmbH. Dr. Pal Johansen receives financial support from PCI Biotech. The other topic editors declare no competing interest with regards to the Research Topic theme.


Important Note: All contributions to this Research Topic must be within the scope of the section and journal to which they are submitted, as defined in their mission statements. Frontiers reserves the right to guide an out-of-scope manuscript to a more suitable section or journal at any stage of peer review.

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Submission Deadlines

24 June 2020 Abstract
14 October 2020 Manuscript

Participating Journals

Manuscripts can be submitted to this Research Topic via the following journals:

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Topic Editors

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Submission Deadlines

24 June 2020 Abstract
14 October 2020 Manuscript

Participating Journals

Manuscripts can be submitted to this Research Topic via the following journals:

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