All too often, reports about research discoveries in the cancer field are laced with exaggeration: a new approach holds the answer to a cure, a great new biomarker is discovered, a new device can revolutionize care.
Most of the time, this exuberance, whether it emanates from research institutions announcing promising findings or from writers imbuing reports with outsized expectations, fades with time when reality inevitably proves to be more complicated than the first blush of discovery.
Then there’s the story of PD-1. Considering the way in which drugs that target the PD-1/PDL1 pathway are dominating the oncology immunotherapy arena these days, it seems difficult to believe that the first reports about the checkpoint blockade inhibitors just began surfacing 4 years ago.
From the onset, researchers noted that the strategy might have wide applicability across a range of cancers. And, unlike many other reports of initial research, that is indeed proving to be the case.
The FDA already has approved three drugs targeting PD-1/PD-L1 since September 2014, and more indications for those and other novel agents still in development are under review. The rapid-fire rollout of this technology truly is stunning.
As a result, we think it’s a good time to hit the pause button and take stock of the PD-1 story. This issue of OncologyLive
features an interview with Suzanne L. Topalian, MD, one of the foremost architects of this new modality, entitled “Immunotherapy Perspective From a PD-1 Pioneer.” In particular, Topalian weighs in on some of the outstanding issues concerning biomarkers for immunotherapy.
As we move forward with this technology, it is important to remember that it is in fact still evolving. The first results of longerterm follow-up with overall survival data are starting to accumulate and are being examined. The need for biomarkers remains pressing.
We plan to address several of these issue in more detail in upcoming issues. These new options are exciting but we don’t want to lose track of the important questions that remain.
As always, thank you for reading.