The Rationale and Emerging Use of Neoadjuvant Immune Checkpoint Blockade for Solid Malignancies
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Unprecedented advances in the treatment of cancer have occurred through the use of immunotherapy, with several agents currently approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for the treatment of widespread metastatic disease across cancer types. Immune checkpoint blockade represents a particularly promising class of agents that block inhibitory molecules on the surface of T cells, resulting in their activation and propagation of an immune response. Treatment with these agents may re-invigorate anti-tumor immunity, resulting in therapeutic responses, and use of these agents currently is being studied in the adjuvant setting. Additionally, a strong rationale exists for their use in the neoadjuvant setting for high-risk resectable disease (e.g., regional nodal disease in the case of melanoma). This rationale is based on the relatively high risk of relapse for these patients, as well as on scientific evidence suggesting that long-term immunologic memory and tumor control may be superior in the setting of treatment for an intact tumor (i.e., neoadjuvant therapy) as opposed to treatment in the setting of micrometastatic disease (e.g., adjuvant treatment). The potential advantages of this approach and the current landscape for neoadjuvant immune checkpoint blockade is discussed in this report, as well as caveats that should be considered by clinicians contemplating this strategy.
Jennifer A. Wargo is a co-founder and scientific advisor to Microbiome DX, received clinical trial support from Roche-Genentech, GSK, BMS, and Novartis; is an advisory board member for Roche-Genentech, GSK, and Novartis; and is on the speaker’s bureau for Imedex, Dava, Omniprex, and Illumina.
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