Numerous immunization trials have proved successful in preventing the growth of experimental animal tumors and human hepatocarcinomas induced by hepatitis B virus. These results have prompted researchers and physicians to use vaccines in a therapeutic mode but the results have, in general, been disappointing even when strongly immunogenic murine tumors were concerned. Data presented herein suggest that immunotherapy induced by a single dose of a dendritic cell-based vaccine against a murine established tumor or against residual tumor cells after debulking the primary tumor, can render not only inhibitory or null but also stimulatory effects on tumor growth. These different effects might be dependent on where the system is located in the immune response curve that relates the quantity of the immune response to the quantity of target tumor cells. We suggest that high ratios render tumor inhibition, medium and very low ratios render null effects and low ratios—between medium and very low ones—render tumor stimulation. Since the magnitude of these ratios would depend on the antigenic profile of the tumor, the immunogenic strength of the vaccine used and the immunological state of the host, studies aimed to determine the magnitude of these variables in each particular case, seem to be necessary as a pre-condition to design rational immunotherapeutic approaches to cancer. In contrast, if these studies are neglected, the worst thing that an immunotherapist could face is not merely a null effect but enhancement of tumor growth
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