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Arch Hellen Med, 35(3), May-June 2018, 337-350


The role of immunotherapy in cancer treatment

Α. Argyriou, P. Rousakis, N. Papaioannou, Ο. Beniata, P. Vitsos, Ι. Kostopoulos, O. Tsitsilonis, P. Samara
Section of Animal and Human Physiology, Department of Biology, School of Science, National and Kapodistrian University of Athens, Athens, Greece

Cancer immunotherapy uses the immune system and its components to mount an anti-tumor response. The two main axes of cancer immunotherapeutics are passive and active forms of treatment. Examples of passive immunotherapy include administration of monoclonal antibodies and cytokines, and adoptive cell transfer of ex vivo "educated" immune cells. Active immunotherapy comprises mainly anti-cancer vaccines (peptide, dendritic cell-based and allogeneic whole cell vaccines), immune checkpoint inhibitors and oncolytic viruses. This is a review of the currently most popular approaches to cancer immunotherapy, with discussion of their clinical relevance, derived from data from clinical trials. To date, clinical experience and efficacy assessment in clinical trials suggest that a combination of more than one immunotherapeutic interventions, in conjunction with other established treatment options, such as chemotherapy, radiotherapy and targeted or epigenetic therapy, can significantly improve the clinical outcome and quality of life of patients with cancer, and prolong their survival considerably.

Key words: Cancer immunotherapy, Checkpoint inhibitors, Dendritic cells (DCs), Monoclonal antibodies (mAbs), Peptide vaccines.

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