Our hopes of using the power of the immune system to control tumours have been partially fulfilled with anti-PD1 antibodies and other checkpoint inhibitors and the use of engineered T cells targeting lineage-specific surface markers with chimeric antigen receptors. Can these successes be generalised? Therapeutic cancer vaccines aim to educate or re-educate the immune system to recognise tumour specific or tumour associated antigens. After many false dawns, some positive data for the effectiveness of such an approach is starting to emerge in advanced solid tumours, albeit as combination therapies with checkpoint inhibitors. But is the field targeting the right antigens? Interventions using the most effective vaccine platforms to target certain sets of antigens in patients with low disease burden might bring impressive long-term benefits to patients as single agents.

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