The 2014 American Society of Clinical Oncology Annual Meeting provided ample evidence not only of the immunotherapy field's vitality but also of its breadth.
The immunotherapy story in oncology has been growing exponentially since the modern era began more than four years ago with the FDA’s approval of sipuleucel-T (Provenge) in metastatic castrate-resistant prostate cancer. This year’s American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) Annual Meeting provided ample evidence not only of the immunotherapy field’s vitality but also of its breadth.
The sheer number of abstracts concerning novel immunotherapy approaches, including their mechanisms of action, underlying biology, and potential biomarkers, represents an explosion of fresh research. Our story, “Immunotherapy Branches Out,” focuses on major trends that emerged from the meeting. The success of ipilimumab (Yervoy), approved in 2011 in metastatic melanoma, has helped make checkpoint blockade agents the leading immunotherapy strategy; now checkpoint agents are being evaluated in an array of tumor types as both monotherapy and in combination regimens. Meanwhile, adoptive T-cell therapies are demonstrating efficacy, and intense industry interest indicates the potential for broad clinical use.
Much more is percolating beyond the topline news. In the checkpoint arena, for example, agents that stimulate the immune system also are under study. In our Science & Technology section, we provide insights from Jonathan Skipper, PhD, of Ludwig Cancer Research, into potential new directions for modulating immune responses.
Similarly, work continues on anticancer vaccines, particularly in prostate cancer. Dendritic-cell autologous immunotherapies, an approach pioneered with sipuleucel-T, also are advancing, notably in renal cell carcinoma.
Indeed, the field is bursting into so many directions that this year’s ASCO offerings provide a treasure trove of data that we will continue to mine in the coming months.
We’ve been fascinated with the unfolding immunotherapy story since the early days of sipuleucel-T and ipilimumab. Both therapies have become available to patients as a result of tenacious researchers who believed in the underlying concept of using the human immune system to respond to cancers.
Now that their ideas have gained credence, we will continue to make developments in immunotherapy—including insights into how best to administer these new agents in daily practice—a priority on OncLive.com.
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