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Cancer Immunotherapy: Checkpoint Inhibitors and Beyond

Cancer Immunotherapy: Checkpoint Inhibitors and Beyond
Reported by
Pinelopi Kyriazi

Posted July 17, 2019

Pinelopi Kyriazi is a PhD candidate in neuroscience and a science writer in New York.

Presented By

Cancer Discussion Group

The New York Academy of Sciences


The field of immunotherapy has revolutionized the treatment of cancer. Since the FDA approved the first immune checkpoint inhibitor drug in 2011, the number of clinical trials using such blockers has grown drastically. The advantage of immune checkpoint inhibitors is that they activate a patient’s own immune system to attack the cancer. Despite great successes, clinical results indicate that these therapies alone are not sufficient to treat many cancer types and combinatorial approaches are needed to improve patient responses.

On May 14–15, 2019, The New York Academy of Sciences hosted Frontiers in Cancer Immunotherapy for the fourth year. This two-day symposium garnered experts in immuno-oncology to discuss the latest findings and biological mechanisms in combination therapies.

Symposium Highlights:

  • There is a need to understand the science underlying combination therapies to continue improving cancer treatment.
  • Adaptive and flexible strategies in clinical trial design are a major goal of the FDA to enhance our understanding of patient responses to cancer immunotherapy.
  • Engineering immune cells with specific targeting, can help reduce off-target effects and toxicity for combination therapies.
  • New approaches target the suppressive microenvironment, including myeloid derived suppressor cells, to improve the immune system’s ability to attack tumors.
  • Immune checkpoint inhibitors can become more efficacious when used in combination with dendritic cell vaccinations or radiation therapy.
  • The underlying biological mechanisms of immune checkpoint blockers reveal a nuanced development of new T-cell types as well as regulatory changes in gene expression.
Immune Checkpoint Therapies: Improving Combination Treatments and Clinical Trial Design
Beyond Immune Checkpoint Inhibitors: Targeting the Suppressive Microenvironment
Engineering Immune Cells for Target Specificity
Changing Strategies: Vaccines, Microbiota, and Radiation as Combination Therapies
Diversifying Cancer Treatment Combinations