In recent years, cancer immunotherapy has achieved some of the most transformational successes in improving the lives of patients with cancer. Despite this unprecedented progress, we are also experiencing new challenges in tailoring these agents to maximize clinical benefit to the right patients.
In order to select patients for appropriate single-agent and combination cancer immuno-therapeutic clinical trials, it is becoming increasingly important to develop and validate technically robust, biologically relevant, and clinically useful individual biomarkers, multiplex biomarker panels, and/or immune gene/molecular signatures utilizing NGS. With the approval of a number of immunohistochemical assays for PD-L1, microsatellite instability, and tumor mutation burden as predictors of response to immunotherapies in specific patient populations with various cancers, there is an urgent need to standardize and adopt these methodologies in the clinic, so that we can rapidly advance the field of personalized immuno-oncology-pathology in order to maximize benefits to our patients.
In practice, we need well-integrated, multi-disciplinary teamwork among pre-clinical scientists, tumor biologists, pathologists, oncologists, image analysts, statisticians, and bioinformaticians working closely with the biomarker teams in academia, industry, and diagnostic companies to fully characterize and match the tumor immune microenvironment (TIME) in a patient’s tumor with the available single-agent or combinatorial immunotherapies. This will also include determination of the status of various biologic pathways of sensitivity or resistance to immuno-therapies, the status of tumor immune cells, and the upregulation or downregulation of the various other mechanisms of tumor progression and resistance to targeted and immuno-therapies.
In order to bring together the most important basic, translational, and clinical advances in the highly complex and rapidly evolving fields of cancer immunotherapy, biomarkers, and diagnostic research and practice, Cancer Cell International has launched this thematic series, “Cancer immunotherapy,” which will comprise of reviews, original research articles, commentaries, and editorials, with the ultimate goal to provide our global audience with a highly informative collection of articles on some of the most impactful advances being made at the forefront of immuno-oncology biomarkers and diagnostics across the globe.
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Aejaz Nasir, MD, M.Phil, FCAP
Associate Editor, Cancer Cell International