About this Research Topic
Although recent therapeutic approaches have revitalized the enthusiasm for the immunological way to combat cancer, a full comprehensive picture of the immune response against tumors is still largely incomplete. Deciphering the various aspects of the interaction between the immune system and tumor cells, particularly: (i) the tumor antigen repertoire to be offered to immune cells and (ii) the duration, (iii) dynamics and (iii) the geography of interaction, will be of paramount importance to fulfil the goal of tumor immunologists: the construction of an efficient anti-tumor vaccine to fight cancer.
In immunological terms, successful vaccination would mean optimal functioning of the adaptive immune response, which is specific and offers long-lasting protection and memory of the tumor.
At present, putatively protective vaccines against human cancers are administered to patients who are already affected by tumor pathology. These are therefore “therapeutic vaccines” and not, as usually assumed in the science of vaccinology, “preventive vaccines”. This constitutes a strong limitation for the efficacy of vaccination as the immune response to the vaccine takes place in an already hostile setting, witnessed by the fact that the tumor not only has already eluded the initial host immune response, but often further creates suppressive mechanisms that keep counteracting the action of the immune system.
This Research Topic will focus on the various aspects of the ongoing battle of the immune system against cancer related to the construction of an optimal vaccine, keeping in mind that even in the best scenario, as outlined above, anti-tumor vaccines will hardly work alone to counteract cancer. We welcome the submission of Original Research articles, Reviews, Methods and Protocols from leaders in the field, with the aim of giving a comprehensive picture on increasing the efficacy and potency of anti-tumor vaccines under the following key points:
1. Augmenting tumor antigen availability:
a: Increasing antigen presentation by increasing MHC-I and MHC-II expression on tumor cells.
b: Reassessing the “adjuvant role” of classical anti-tumor therapies (chemotherapy, radiotherapy).
c: Assessing the “adjuvant role” of oncolytic viruses.
2. Reducing/blocking the effect of suppressive mechanisms by the tumor on the immune response against a give vaccine:
a: Downregulation of MHC class I expression by factors of the tumor microenvironment.
b: Counteracting the effect of Tregs and of myeloid-derived suppressor cells (MDSC).
c: Counteracting the effect of inhibitory checkpoints.
3. Methodologies and protocols for the identification and characterization of tumor peptidome including iper-expressed antigens and neo-antigens towards developing new vaccines.
4. Methods for assessing the immunogenecity of the tumor peptidome in view of developing anti-tumor vaccines.
We are confident that this Research Topic will help to better delineate the past and present problems related to the efficacy of anti-tumor vaccines and, based on this background, develop new ideas and strategies to improve their construction and efficacy for tomorrow.
Research Topic Editor, Prof. Cornelis Melief is employed by ISA Pharmaceuticals. All other Research Topic Editors declare no competing interests with regards to the Research Topic subject.