Biomarker Hunt Focuses on Predicting Immunotherapy Adverse Events

Andrew D. Smith
Published: Wednesday, Dec 26, 2018
Douglas B. Johnson, MD

Douglas B. Johnson, MD

Findings from recent studies have begun to answer a question that oncologists have been asking since the FDA approved the first immune checkpoint inhibitor, ipilimumab (Yervoy), in 2011: Which patients will tolerate a particular immunotherapy and which patients will suffer serious toxicities?

Search for Answers Starts With Autoimmunity

The most common irAEs associated with checkpoint inhibitors are autoimmune attacks on healthy cells, so researchers hypothesized that preexisting autoimmune disease would be among the best predictors of new irAEs; these patients have routinely been excluded from immunotherapy trials. However, investigators recently found that although an underlying autoimmune disorder can flare during ipilimumab therapy or can result in irAEs, a preexisting condition does not negatively affect response, and the resulting irAEs are manageable.3,4
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