Enhancing tumor specific immune responses by transcutaneous vaccination. Expert Review of Vaccines 2017, 16 (11), 1079-1094.

Introduction Our understanding of the involvement of the immune system in cancer control has increased over recent years. However, the development of cancer vaccines intended to reverse tumor-induced immune tolerance remains slow as most current vaccine candidates exhibit limited clinical efficacy. The skin is particularly rich with multiple subsets of dendritic cells (DCs) that are involved to varying degrees in the induction of robust immune responses. Transcutaneous administration of cancer vaccines may therefore harness the immune potential of these DCs, however, this approach is hampered by the impermeability of the stratum corneum. Innovative vaccine formulations including various nanoparticles, such as liposomes, are therefore needed to properly deliver cancer vaccine components to skin DCs. Areas covered The recent insights into skin DC subsets and their functional specialization, the potential of nanoparticle-based vaccines in transcutaneous cancer vaccination and, finally, the most relevant clinical trial advances in liposomal and in cutaneous cancer vaccines will be discussed. Expert commentary To define the optimal conditions for mounting protective skin DC-induced anti-tumor immune responses, investigation of the cellular and molecular interplay that controls tumor progression should be pursued in parallel with clinical development. The resulting knowledge will then be translated into improved cancer vaccines that better target the most appropriate immune players.