Approximately 50% of human malignancies carry p53 mutations, which makes it a potential antigenic target for cancer immunotherapy. Adoptive transfer with p53-specific cytotoxic T-lymphocytes (CTL) and CD4+ T-helper cells eradicates p53-overexpressing tumors in mice. Furthermore, p53 antibodies and p53-specific CTLs can be detected in cancer patients, indicating that p53 is immunogenic. Based on these results, clinical trials were initiated. In this paper, we review immunological and clinical responses observed in cancer patients vaccinated with p53 targeting vaccines. In most trials, p53-specific vaccine-induced immunological responses were observed. Unfortunately, no clinical responses with significant reduction of tumor-burden have occurred. We will elaborate on possible explanations for this lack of clinical effectiveness. In the second part of this paper, we summarize several immunopotentiating combination strategies suitable for clinical use. In our opinion, future p53-vaccine studies should focus on addition of these immunopotentiating regimens to achieve clinically effective therapeutic vaccination strategies for cancer patients
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