Volume 94 (2018) Issue 3 Pages 153-160
The immune system eliminates advanced cancer when treated with programmed cell death protein-1 (PD-1) or its ligand (PD-L1) blockade, but PD-1 therapy is effective in only ∼20% of patients with solid cancer. The PD-1 antibody mainly acts on the effector phase of cytotoxic T lymphocytes (CTLs) in tumors but induces no activation of the priming phase of antigen-presenting dendritic cells (DCs). It is reasonable that both DC-priming and PD-1/L1 blocking are mandatory for efficient CTL-mediated tumor cytolysis. For DC-priming, a therapeutic vaccine containing Toll-like receptor (TLR) agonists, namely a priming adjuvant, is a good candidate; however, a means for DC-targeting by TLR adjuvant therapy remains to be developed. TLR adjuvants usually harbor cytokine toxicity, which is a substantial barrier against drug approval. Here, we discuss the functional properties of current TLR adjuvants for cancer immunotherapy and introduce a TLR3-specific adjuvant (ARNAX) that barely induces cytokinemia in mouse models.