Administering dendritic cells (DC) loaded with tumor-associated antigens (TAA) ex vivo is a promising strategy for therapeutic vaccines in advanced melanoma. To date the induction of immune responses to specific TAA has been more impressive than clinical benefit because of TAA limitations, suboptimal DC and possibly immune-checkpoint inhibition. Various products, antigen-loading techniques, treatment schedules, routes of administration and adjunctive agents continue to be explored. Biologic heterogeneity suggests autologous tumor as the optimal TAA source to induce immune responses to the entire repertoire of unique patient-specific neoantigens. Many questions remain regarding the optimal preparation of DC and strategies for antigen loading. Effective DC vaccines should result in additive or synergistic effects when combined with checkpoint inhibitors.
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