Dendritic Cell-Based and Other Vaccination Strategies for Pediatric Cancer
Dendritic cell-based and other vaccination strategies that use the patient’s own immune system for the treatment of cancer are gaining momentum. Most studies of therapeutic cancer vaccination have been performed in adults. However, since cancer is one of the leading causes of death among children past infancy in the Western world, the hope is that this form of active specific immunotherapy can play an important role in the pediatric population as well. Since children have more vigorous and adaptable immune systems than adults, therapeutic cancer vaccines are expected to have a better chance of creating protective immunity and preventing cancer recurrence in pediatric patients. Moreover, in contrast to conventional cancer treatments such as chemotherapy, therapeutic cancer vaccines are designed to specifically target tumor cells and not healthy cells or tissues. This reduces the likelihood of side effects, which is an important asset in this vulnerable patient population. In this review, we present an overview of the different therapeutic cancer vaccines that have been studied in the pediatric population, with a main focus on dendritic cell-based strategies. In addition, new approaches that are currently being investigated in clinical trials are discussed to provide guidance for further improvement and optimization of pediatric cancer vaccines.