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Ravi A. Madan, Thomas Schwaab and James L. Gulley

Sipuleucel-T is a therapeutic cancer vaccine that has shown improved survival in men with metastatic castration-resistant prostate cancer. As a first-in-class agent, it has been met with both fan-fare and controversy. A broad review of immune-based therapies may reveal the delayed clinical impact of sipuleucel-T to be a class effect. As new strategies of immune-based therapy are developed, their effects can be optimized through better understanding of how they affect disease differently from more standard therapeutics. Furthermore, combination therapy with agents that can either work synergistically with immune-activating therapies or deplete immune-regulating cells may result in more vigorous immune responses and improved clinical outcomes. In addition, therapeutic vaccines may be ideal candidates to safely combine with standard-of-care therapies because of their nonoverlapping toxicity profile. The ultimate role of immunotherapy may not be to supplant standard therapies, but rather to work in concert with them to maximize clinical benefit for patients.