Therapeutic vaccines for breast cancer: Has the time finally come?

Chiara Corti, Pier P.M.B. Giachetti, Alexander M.M. Eggermont, Suzette Delaloge, Giuseppe Curigliano

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

26 Citations (Scopus)


The ability to exploit the immune system as a weapon against cancer has revolutionised the treatment of cancer patients, especially through immune checkpoint inhibitors (ICIs). However, ICIs demonstrated a modest benefit in treating breast cancer (BC), with the exception of certain subsets of triple-negative BCs. An immune-suppressive tumour microenvironment (TME), typically present in BC, is an important factor in the poor response to immunotherapy. After almost two decades of poor clinical trial results, cancer vaccines (CVs), an active immunotherapy, have come back in the spotlight because of some technological advancements, ultimately boosted by coronavirus disease 2019 pandemic. In particular, neoantigens are emerging as the preferred targets for CVs, with gene-based and viral vector–based platforms in development. Moreover, lipid nanoparticles proved to be immunogenic and efficient delivery vehicles. Past clinical trials investigating CVs focused especially on the metastatic disease, where the TME is more likely compromised by inhibitory mechanisms. In this sense, favouring the use of CVs as monotherapy in premalignant or in the adjuvant setting and establishing combination treatments (i.e. CV plus ICI) in late-stage disease are promising strategies. This review provides a full overview of the past and current breast cancer vaccine landscape.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)150-174
Number of pages25
JournalEuropean Journal of Cancer
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2022


  • Breast cancer
  • Cancer
  • Covid-19
  • Immunogenicity
  • Immunotherapies
  • Neoantigens
  • Pandemic
  • Vaccines


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