Summary

Molecular biology has opened new frontiers for the understanding of tumour immunology. Biological therapies of cancer are based on sound scientific rationale and show promising preliminary results. Immunotherapy in particular is based on the breaking of the host's immunological tolerance to the tumour. This would allow the immune system of the patient to recognize the tumour as non-self and mediate an effective anti-tumour response directly or indirectly.

To date, immunotherapy has failed to bring radical improvements in patients' care. Nevertheless, several complete and partial remissions have been induced in some cancer patients, mainly those with minimal tumour burden, indicating a potential role for immunotherapy in the armentarium against cancer.

The main challenge for tumour immunologists in the near future is to carry out properly controlled studies of the safety and efficacy of the immunotherapy approaches, in order to identify the individuals most likely to benefit from them.

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