Harnessing DNA-induced immune responses for improving cancer vaccines

Andrés A. Herrada, Nicole Rojas-Colonelli, Paula González-Figueroa, Jonathan Roco, César Oyarce, Maarten A. Ligtenberg, Alvaro Lladser

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

22 Citations (Scopus)


DNA vaccines have emerged as an attractive strategy to promote protective cellular and humoral immunity against the encoded antigen. DNA vaccines are easy to generate, inexpensive to produce and purify at large-scale, highly stable and safe. In addition, plasmids used for DNA vaccines act as powerful "danger signals" by stimulating several DNA-sensing innate immune receptors that promote the induction of protective adaptive immunity. The induction of tumor-specific immune responses represents a major challenge for DNA vaccines because most of tumor-associated antigens are normal non-mutated self-antigens. As a consequence, induction of potentially self-reactive T cell responses against such poorly immunogenic antigens is controlled by mechanisms of central and peripheral tolerance as well as tumor-induced immunosuppression. Although several DNA vaccines against cancer have reached clinical testing, disappointing results have been observed. Therefore, the development of new adjuvants that strongly stimulate the induction of antitumor T cell immunity and counteract immune-suppressive regulation is an attractive approach to enhance the potency of DNA vaccines and overcome tumor-associated tolerance. Understanding the DNA-sensing signaling pathways of innate immunity that mediate the induction of T cell responses elicited by DNA vaccines represents a unique opportunity to develop novel adjuvants that enhance vaccine potency. The advance of DNA adjuvants needs to be complemented with the development of potent delivery systems, in order to step toward successful clinical application. Here, we briefly discuss recent evidence showing how to harness DNA-induced immune response to improve the potency of cancer vaccines and counteract tumor-associated tolerance.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1682-1693
Number of pages12
JournalHuman Vaccines and Immunotherapeutics
Issue number11
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2012


  • Adaptive immunity
  • Cancer vaccines
  • DNA electroporation
  • DNA vaccine
  • Innate immunity

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Immunology and Allergy
  • Immunology
  • Pharmacology


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