Therapeutic cancer vaccines for pediatric malignancies: Advances, challenges, and emerging technologies

Hannah E. Olsen, Geoffrey M. Lynn, Pablo A. Valdes, Christian D. Cerecedo Lopez, Andrew S. Ishizuka, Omar Arnaout, W. Linda Bi, Pier Paolo Peruzzi, E. Antonio Chiocca, Gregory K. Friedman, Joshua D. Bernstock

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

11 Scopus citations


Though outcomes for pediatric cancer patients have significantly improved over the past several decades, too many children still experience poor outcomes and survivors suffer lifelong, debilitating late effects after conventional chemotherapy, radiation, and surgical treatment. Consequently, there has been a renewed focus on developing novel targeted therapies to improve survival outcomes. Cancer vaccines are a promising type of immunotherapy that leverage the immune system to mediate targeted, tumor-specific killing through recognition of tumor antigens, thereby minimizing off-target toxicity. As such, cancer vaccines are orthogonal to conventional cancer treatments and can therefore be used alone or in combination with other therapeutic modalities to maximize efficacy. To date, cancer vaccination has remained largely understudied in the pediatric population. In this review, we discuss the different types of tumor antigens and vaccine technologies (dendritic cells, peptides, nucleic acids, and viral vectors) evaluated in clinical trials, with a focus on those used in children. We conclude with perspectives on how advances in combination therapies, tumor antigen (eg, neoantigen) selection, and vaccine platform optimization can be translated into clinical practice to improve outcomes for children with cancer.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbervdab027
JournalNeuro-Oncology Advances
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1 2021
Externally publishedYes


  • checkpoint inhibitors
  • experimental therapeutics
  • immunotherapy
  • pediatric cancer
  • vaccination

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Neurology
  • Oncology
  • Surgery


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