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Clinical and Developmental Immunology
Volume 2012, Article ID 124187, 12 pages
Review Article

Towards Curative Cancer Immunotherapy: Overcoming Posttherapy Tumor Escape

1Cancer Immunotherapy Program, Cancer Center, Georgia Health Sciences University, Augusta, GA 30912, USA
2Department of Medicine, School of Medicine, Georgia Health Sciences University, Augusta, GA 30912, USA
3Cancer Immunology Experimental Medicine, Hoffmann-La Roche Inc., Nutley, NJ, USA
4Sidney Kimmel Comprehensive Cancer Center, Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, Baltimore, MD, USA

Received 30 January 2012; Accepted 6 March 2012

Academic Editor: Nejat Egilmez

Copyright © 2012 Gang Zhou and Hyam Levitsky. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


The past decade has witnessed the evolvement of cancer immunotherapy as an increasingly effective therapeutic modality, evidenced by the approval of two immune-based products by the FDA, that is, the cancer vaccine Provenge (sipuleucel-T) for prostate cancer and the antagonist antibody against cytotoxic T-lymphocyte antigen-4 (CTLA-4) ipilimumab for advanced melanoma. In addition, the clinical evaluations of a variety of promising immunotherapy drugs are well under way. Benefiting from more efficacious immunotherapeutic agents and treatment strategies, a number of recent clinical studies have achieved unprecedented therapeutic outcomes in some patients with certain types of cancers. Despite these advances, however, the efficacy of most cancer immunotherapies currently under clinical development has been modest. A recurring scenario is that therapeutic maneuvers initially led to measurable antitumor immune responses in cancer patients but ultimately failed to improve patient outcomes. It is increasingly recognized that tumor cells can antagonize therapy-induced immune attacks through a variety of counterregulation mechanisms, which represent a fundamental barrier to the success of cancer immunotherapy. Herein we summarize the findings from some recent preclinical and clinical studies, focusing on how tumor cells advance their survival and expansion by hijacking therapy-induced immune effector mechanisms that would otherwise mediate their destruction.