Adjuvants are immunological agents used to enhance antigen presentation to specific immune cells. They are usually added to vaccines to selectively alter the immune response to help facilitate the purpose of the vaccine, but adjuvant therapies can be administered on their own to complement other primary treatments such as post-cancer surgery. Standalone adjuvants used for initial therapies include Bacillus Calmette-Guerin (BCG) for treating bladder cancer as well as Granulocyte-macrophage colony-stimulating factor (GM-CSF) for managing prostate cancer. The FDA has approved the use of INFα-2b as adjuvant immunotherapy for melanoma patients with a high risk of recurrence.1
Improving traditional adjuvants will require developing stronger immunostimulatory molecules to improve the adjuvant vaccine system. Since they will be injected, novel adjuvants must have rapid and transient effects that can work synergistically with other adjuvants or vaccines without further disrupting the immune status of the host. For more information on immunotherapy please visit our expanded section here
1. D. Davar et al, "Adjuvant Therapy for Melanoma," Cancer J
18(2): 192-202, 2012.