Recent experimental data suggest that immunity can be activated to prevent tumors. The rationale for prevention is strong because the setting is one endowed with an immune system that is neither impaired by tumor and treatment-induced suppression, nor tolerant to tumor-associated antigens. Oncogenic growth factor receptors are tumor antigens and rational targets for specific immunoprevention. Successful prevention of mammary carcinomas in Her-2/neu transgenic mice is cited as an evidence of the validity of this approach. The specific properties of the Her-2/neu gene product as an antigen and the nature of the immune responses induced by effective preventive treatments are summarized.
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