Poly-ICLC, a multi-functional immune modulator for treating cancer

Hussein Sultan, Andres M. Salazar, Esteban Celis

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

41 Scopus citations


Immunotherapies have become the first line of treatment for many cancer types. Unfortunately, only a small fraction of patients benefits from these therapies. This low rate of success can be attributed to 3 main barriers: 1) low frequency of anti-tumor specific T cells; 2) lack of infiltration of the anti-tumor specific T cells into the tumor parenchyma and 3) accumulation of highly suppressive cells in the tumor mass that inhibit the effector function of the anti-tumor specific T cells. Thus, the identification of immunomodulators that can increase the frequency and/or the infiltration of antitumor specific T cells while reducing the suppressive capacity of the tumor microenvironment is necessary to ensure the effectiveness of T cell immunotherapies. In this review, we discuss the potential of poly-ICLC as a multi-functional immune modulator for treating cancer and its impact on the 3 above mentioned barriers. We describe the unique capacity of poly-ICLC in stimulating 2 separate pattern recognition receptors, TLR3 and cytosolic MDA5 and the consequences of these activations on cytokines and chemokines production. We emphasize the role of poly-ICLC as an adjuvant in the setting of peptide-based cancer vaccines and in situ tumor vaccination by mimicking natural immune responses to infections. Finally, we summarize the impact of poly-ICLC in enhancing T infiltration into the tumor parenchyma and address the implication of this finding in the clinic.

Original languageEnglish
Article number101414
JournalSeminars in immunology
StatePublished - Jun 2020


  • Cancer immunotherapy
  • Cancer vaccines
  • Immunomodulation
  • Pattern recognition receptors
  • T cell tumor infiltration
  • Vascular endothelial cells


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