Dendritic cells are branched cells found in lymphoid organs and they are responsible for antigen display and T-cell activation. Antigen display presents the identity of pathogen to T-cells for their identification and elimination from the body. In 1868, Paul Langerhans discovered dendritic cells and thought that they are part of nervous system because of their branched structure. Until 1973 their identity was mistaken, Ralph Steinman and Zanvil Cohn identified them as a new category of White Blood Cells (WBC) with distinct nature, concentration, features and function in immunity. With time, their potential in developing therapeutics was recognized and in past few years some products has been launched by pharmaceutical companies in market.
Different kinds of cancers have different source of origin and mechanism which presents complexities in front of oncologists to develop a broad acting therapeutic for cancer treatment. Dendritic cells are versatile in nature due to which they can be modified by oncologists depending upon the type of cancer under investigation. Based upon the type of tumor associated antibodies, a dendritic cell cancer vaccine can be formulated to target multiple cancers that make them effective for multiple targets. Some clinical trials are investigating these types of dendritic cell cancer vaccine which would help several patients.
The ability of dendritic cell cancer vaccine to develop anti-tumor immunity has been documented in a number of cases. Oncologists have extensively studied the mechanism of dendritic cell cancer vaccine for several years and they been able to modify them according to medical necessities Loading dendritic cells with antigens isolated from tumor cell has been used for cancer vaccines for identifying different categories and sub-categories of a given cancer. Another major role that they perform is the activation of T-helper cells and cytotoxic T-lymphocytes which are mainly responsible for elimination of cancerous cells.
The continuous supply of dendritic cells for modification to develop novel cancer vaccines without losing time is great essence of time. The low availability of dendritic cells has been mostly solved by developing large scale dendrite cell growth facilities. The problem of expressing tumor specific antigens is another problem which is expected to be solved by gene transfer or mRNA transfections. The present research shows that they have better antigen presenting capabilities due to which their potency is expected to increase. This would be able to reduce the present mortality rates, increase longevity and compete effectively with other therapeutics in same cancer categories.
Genetically modified dendritic cell cancer vaccines are superior tool for targeting recalcitrant cancers like brain cancer therapy. Numerous studies have demonstrated their potential in combinatorial approach to effectively tame the growth of brain tumor. The sure curability effect of therapeutics including these vaccines has not been established but their performance is far better than its competitors in same category. The high pace of research and development along with initial positive results in experimental studies is expected to create large market for dendritic cell based cancer vaccines.
The design of dendritic cell cancer vaccine is likely to improve and much emphasis will be on multiple cancer antigen targeting capabilities of a single molecule. Computer technology is helping oncologists to design and run simulations on these hypothetical vaccines to check their effect on cellular machinery even before going to laboratory and consuming precious resources. This technology could also save lots of time by performing analysis on hundreds of probable vaccine candidates in single experiment. However, the results of such dendritic cell cancer vaccines remain elusive in clinical trials which may be marketed if they produce the significant pharmacological effects in eradicating the cancer.
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