Research ArticleVACCINATION

Intramuscular Therapeutic Vaccination Targeting HPV16 Induces T Cell Responses That Localize in Mucosal Lesions

Science Translational Medicine  29 Jan 2014:
Vol. 6, Issue 221, pp. 221ra13
DOI: 10.1126/scitranslmed.3007323

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Putting Cancer Vaccines in Context

Despite the notable success of vaccines for infectious diseases, cancer vaccines remain a challenge. Cancer vaccines must overcome many hurdles, including an immunosuppressive tumor microenvironment, antigenic similarity to healthy cells, and the vast diversity of cancer types and origins. Even vaccines that target infection-induced cancer, such as for cervical intraepithelial neoplasias (CINs) caused by human papillomavirus (HPV), have had limited success at inducing peripheral blood T cell responses. Now, Maldonado et al. suggest that peripheral therapeutic vaccination to HPV can induce a tissue-localized effector immune response.

The authors hypothesized that context was important when looking for immune responses to the therapeutic HPV vaccine. Although CIN patients had only modest changes in the immune response in the blood, these changes were much more pronounced in the target lesion microenvironment. They found evidence of immune proliferation and activation in the CIN lesions that was not detectible in peripheral blood. These data suggest that some early vaccine “failures,” which are often determined by peripheral blood T cells response, may not be failures at all and that looking in the target lesion may be the best place to determine vaccine response.