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Journal: Journal for immunotherapy of cancer


The efficacy of PD-1/PD-L1 targeted therapies in addition to anti-CTLA-4 solidifies immunotherapy as a modality to add to the anticancer arsenal. Despite raising the bar of clinical efficacy, immunologically targeted agents raise new challenges to conventional drug development paradigms by highlighting the limited relevance of assessing standard pharmacokinetics (PK) and pharmacodynamics (PD). Specifically, systemic and intratumoral immune effects have not consistently correlated with standard relationships between systemic dose, toxicity, and efficacy for cytotoxic therapies. Hence, PK and PD paradigms remain inadequate to guide the selection of doses and schedules, both starting and recommended Phase 2 for immunotherapies. The promise of harnessing the immune response against cancer must also be considered in light of unique and potentially serious toxicities. Refining immune endpoints to better inform clinical trial design represents a high priority challenge. The Cancer Immunotherapy Trials Network investigators review the immunodynamic effects of specific classes of immunotherapeutic agents to focus immune assessment modalities and sites, both systemic and importantly intratumoral, which are critical to the success of the rapidly growing field of immuno-oncology.

Concepts: Immune system, Pharmacology, Clinical trial, The Canon of Medicine, Effectiveness, Immunology, Immunotherapy



Cancer immunotherapy has been firmly established as a standard of care for patients with advanced and metastatic melanoma. Therapeutic outcomes in clinical trials have resulted in the approval of 11 new drugs and/or combination regimens for patients with melanoma. However, prospective data to support evidence-based clinical decisions with respect to the optimal schedule and sequencing of immunotherapy and targeted agents, how best to manage emerging toxicities and when to stop treatment are not yet available.


Anti-cancer immunotherapy is encountering its own checkpoint. Responses are dramatic and long lasting but occur in a subset of tumors and are largely dependent upon the pre-existing immune contexture of individual cancers. Available data suggest that three landscapes best define the cancer microenvironment: immune-active, immune-deserted and immune-excluded. This trichotomy is observable across most solid tumors (although the frequency of each landscape varies depending on tumor tissue of origin) and is associated with cancer prognosis and response to checkpoint inhibitor therapy (CIT). Various gene signatures (e.g. Immunological Constant of Rejection - ICR and Tumor Inflammation Signature - TIS) that delineate these landscapes have been described by different groups. In an effort to explain the mechanisms of cancer immune responsiveness or resistance to CIT, several models have been proposed that are loosely associated with the three landscapes. Here, we propose a strategy to integrate compelling data from various paradigms into a “Theory of Everything”. Founded upon this unified theory, we also propose the creation of a task force led by the Society for Immunotherapy of Cancer (SITC) aimed at systematically addressing salient questions relevant to cancer immune responsiveness and immune evasion. This multidisciplinary effort will encompass aspects of genetics, tumor cell biology, and immunology that are pertinent to the understanding of this multifaceted problem.


Lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer-related mortality worldwide, with non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) accounting for over 85% of all cases. Until recently, chemotherapy - characterized by some benefit but only rare durable responses - was the only treatment option for patients with NSCLC whose tumors lacked targetable mutations. By contrast, immune checkpoint inhibitors have demonstrated distinctly durable responses and represent the advent of a new treatment approach for patients with NSCLC. Three immune checkpoint inhibitors, pembrolizumab, nivolumab and atezolizumab, are now approved for use in first- and/or second-line settings for selected patients with advanced NSCLC, with promising benefit also seen in patients with stage III NSCLC. Additionally, durvalumab following chemoradiation has been approved for use in patients with locally advanced disease. Due to the distinct features of cancer immunotherapy, and rapid progress in the field, clinical guidance is needed on the use of these agents, including appropriate patient selection, sequencing of therapies, response monitoring, adverse event management, and biomarker testing. The Society for Immunotherapy of Cancer (SITC) convened an expert Task Force charged with developing consensus recommendations on these key issues. Following a systematic process as outlined by the National Academy of Medicine, a literature search and panel voting were used to rate the strength of evidence for each recommendation. This consensus statement provides evidence-based recommendations to help clinicians integrate immune checkpoint inhibitors into the treatment plan for patients with NSCLC. This guidance will be updated following relevant advances in the field.


Future cancer immunotherapies will combine multiple treatments to generate functional immune responses to cancer antigens through synergistic, multi-modal mechanisms. In this study we explored the combination of three distinct immunotherapies: a class I restricted peptide-based cancer vaccine, metronomic cyclophosphamide (mCPA) and anti-PD-1 treatment in a murine tumor model expressing HPV16 E7 (C3).

Concepts: Immune system, Antibody, Bacteria, Vaccine, Vaccination, Adaptive immune system, Antigen, Major histocompatibility complex


Cancer immunotherapy and in particular monoclonal antibodies blocking the inhibitory programed cell death 1 pathway (PD-1/PD-L1) have made a significant impact on the treatment of cancer patients in recent years. However, despite the remarkable clinical efficacy of these agents in a number of malignancies, it has become clear that they are not sufficiently active for many patients. Initial evidence, for example with combined inhibition of PD-1 and CTLA-4 in melanoma and non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC), has highlighted the potential to further enhance the clinical benefits of monotherapies by combining agents with synergistic mechanisms of action. In order to address the current progress and consider challenges associated with these novel approaches, the Society for Immunotherapy of Cancer (SITC) convened a Combination Immunotherapy Task Force. This Task Force was charged with identifying and prioritizing the most promising prospects for combinatorial approaches as well as addressing the challenges associated with developing these strategies. As a result of the extensive clinical benefit and tolerable side effects demonstrated with agents inhibiting the PD-1 pathway, an overview of current evidence to support its promising potential for use as a backbone in combination strategies is presented. In addition, key issues in the development of these strategies including preclinical modeling, patient safety and toxicity considerations, clinical trial design, and endpoints are also discussed. Overall, the goal of this manuscript is to provide a summary of the current status and potential challenges associated with the development and clinical implementation of these strategies.

Concepts: Immune system, Epidemiology, Clinical trial, Cancer, Metastasis, Lung cancer, Non-small cell lung carcinoma, The Canon of Medicine


Immune-checkpoint blocking antibodies have demonstrated objective antitumor responses in multiple tumor types including melanoma, non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC), and renal cell cancer (RCC). In melanoma, an increase in overall survival has been demonstrated with anti-CTLA-4 and PD-1 inhibition. However, a plethora of immune-mediated adverse events has been reported with these agents. Immune-mediated cardiotoxicity induced by checkpoint inhibitors has been reported in single cases with variable presentation, including myocarditis and pericarditis. Among six clinical cancer centers with substantial experience in the administration of immune-checkpoint blocking antibodies, eight cases of immune-related cardiotoxicity after ipilimumab and/or nivolumab/pembrolizumab were identified. Diagnostic findings, treatment and follow-up are reported. A large variety of cardiotoxic events with manifestations such as heart failure, cardiomyopathy, heart block, myocardial fibrosis and myocarditis was documented. This is the largest case series to date describing cardiotoxicity of immune-checkpoint blocking antibodies. Awareness, monitoring of patients with pre-existing cardiac disorders and prompt evaluation by the treatment team is essential. Treatment including application of steroids is critical for patient safety.

Concepts: Cancer, Metastasis, Lung cancer, Non-small cell lung carcinoma, Myocardial infarction, Cardiology, Heart, Chemotherapy


As cancer strikes, individuals vary not only in terms of factors that contribute to its occurrence and development, but as importantly, in their capacity to respond to treatment. While exciting new therapeutic options that mobilize the immune system against cancer have led to breakthroughs for a variety of malignancies, success is limited to a subset of patients. Pre-existing immunological features of both the host and the tumor may contribute to how patients will eventually fare with immunotherapy. A broad understanding of baseline immunity, both in the periphery and in the tumor microenvironment, is needed in order to fully realize the potential of cancer immunotherapy. Such interrogation of the tumor, blood, and host immune parameters prior to treatment is expected to identify biomarkers predictive of clinical outcome as well as to elucidate why some patients fail to respond to immunotherapy. To approach these opportunities for progress, the Society for Immunotherapy of Cancer (SITC) reconvened the Immune Biomarkers Task Force. Comprised of an international multidisciplinary panel of experts, Working Group 4 sought to make recommendations that focus on the complexity of the tumor microenvironment, with its diversity of immune genes, proteins, cells, and pathways naturally present at baseline and in circulation, and novel tools to aid in such broad analyses.

Concepts: AIDS, Immune system, Antibody, Cancer, Blood, Immunology, Humoral immunity, Immunity


This report is a summary of ‘New Cancer Immunotherapy Agents in Development’ program, which took place in association with the 31st Annual Meeting of the Society for Immunotherapy of Cancer (SITC), on November 9, 2016 in National Harbor, Maryland. Presenters gave brief overviews of emerging clinical and pre-clinical immune-based agents and combinations, before participating in an extended panel discussion with multidisciplinary leaders, including members of the FDA, leading academic institutions and industrial drug developers, to consider topics relevant to the future of cancer immunotherapy.

Concepts: Future, Sociology, Management, Society, Cancer immunotherapy