One of the older and most validated cancer treatments is endocrine therapy. Some tumors are dependent on hormone stimulation for growth, and therefore therapeutic interventions aiming to deprive the cells of the hormone are feasible and have been successful. Tumor growth also depends in some cases on growth factors, so that the concept of hormone-dependence can be extended to growth factors deprivation. Hormone deprivation has been therapeutically achieved up to now by surgical, radiation and chemical means. However, the immune system usually can be manipulated to recognize hormones and growth factors, and in fact some autoimmune diseases exists involving autoantibodies against hormones. The idea of inducing a deprivation of hormones and growth factors by active immunizations is appealing, and initial evidence about the feasibility of this approach is starting to appear in the literature. Clinical trials have been initiated using immunization with human chorionic gonadotrophin (hCG), gastrin, luteinizing hormone releasing hormone (LHRH) / gonadotropin releasing hormone (GnRH) and epidermal growth factor (EGF). Preliminary data already show that antibody titers can be elicited, which results in a decrease in the concentration of a given hormone or growth factor. Both the antibody titers and the decrease in the hormone level are related to survival. This immunological approach for hormone and growth factor deprivation creates the possibility of chronic management of advanced cancer patients.
Keywords: Cancer vaccines, immunotherapy, endocrine therapy, hormones, growth factors
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