Vaccination strategies against colorectal carcinoma attempt to stimulate and direct the body's endogenous immune defense mechanisms against growing malignancies. In similar manner, gene transfer technologies offer the potential to increase the immunogenicity of tumors, confer increased susceptibility to cytotoxic agents, interfere with tumor growth, and correct carcinogenic mutations. With progressive advances in the scientific understanding of carcinogenesis, immune regulation, and the manipulation of immune effector mechanisms at both cellular and molecular levels, vaccines and gene therapies for colon and rectal cancers are now entering preliminary human clinical trials. These novel approaches may eventually offer new treatment possibilities for patients with colorectal malignancies.
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