Therapeutic cancer vaccines aim to induce durable antitumor immunity that is capable of systemic protection against tumor recurrence or metastatic disease. Many approaches to therapeutic cancer vaccines have been explored, with varying levels of success. However, with the exception of Sipuleucel T, an ex vivo dendritic cell vaccine for prostate cancer, no therapeutic cancer vaccine has yet shown clinical efficacy in phase 3 randomized trials. Though disappointing, lessons learned from these studies have suggested new strategies to improve cancer vaccines. The clinical success of checkpoint blockade has underscored the role of peripheral tolerance mechanisms in limiting vaccine responses and highlighted the potential for combination therapies. Recent advances in transcriptome sequencing, computational modeling, and material engineering further suggest new opportunities to intensify cancer vaccines. This review will discuss the major approaches to therapeutic cancer vaccination and explore recent advances that inform the design of the next generation of cancer vaccines.
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