Cancer Immunotherapy at the Crossroads: How Tumors Evade Immunity and What Can Be Done?

Reviewed by:


J H Finke and R M Bukowski (eds)
Published by Humana Press (2003)
ISBN:  1-5882-9183-9.  372 pages plus index.
RRP:  A$135.00


Over the past 15 years there has been much excitement in the oncological world in the prospect of cancer cure with immunological techniques. Initially cytokines, later vaccines – genetically transduced autologous cells, autologous dendritic cell-based being the most popular. Despite the theoretical advantages, durable complete responses are few and the majority of patients die of progressive disease.

This timely book approaches the other end of the equation – why are we failing? 

Many immunological books are hard to read – with complex scientific jargon, acronyms and abbreviations. This book is very readable.

The authors discuss the most likely reason for the failure of therapies to induce a curable host immune response. Whether this be HLA class I antigen defects – with the loss, selective loss or down regulation of surface antigens. The evidence is present that this occurs in particularly aggressive metastatic disease and may require one or two genetic mutations. Importantly in all chapters evidence is presented of new work in the laboratory which may help overcome these defects.

Other aspects covered include cellular malfunction in cancer – we are particularly interested in the evidence for dendritic cell and T-cell failure. 

Immune suppression by the secretion of interlurkin–10, secretion of tumor gangliosides and the recognition that tumour cells may escape destruction by immune affected cells by expressing the FAS ligand on the cell surface. Again, all of these mechanisms are detailed with excellent references at the end of each chapter.
This book is good reading for all those interested in oncological immunotherapy.  Do not be discouraged by the title as it has been very well edited. I congratulate both of them for their effort.

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