What has made cancer immunotherapy such a promising avenue of treatment and where will it be in the next five to 10 years? Jason Luke, M.D., an assistant professor of medicine at the University of Chicago, recently shared his opinions about the current and future state of immunotherapy.
Immunotherapy Makes the Type of Cancer Irrelevant
As Dr. Luke explains, immunotherapy is about the difference in the immune system’s response to cancer rather than the difference in the types of tumors. Researchers are focusing on the number of mutations rather than the mutations themselves to determine the quality of the baseline immune response.
New technologies such as gene expression profiling make it easier to measure data. The hope is that eventually this will lead to a broader application of immunotherapy as opposed to a cancer-specific one.
Why Does Immunotherapy Work So Well on Lung Cancer and Melanoma?
According to Dr. Luke, the popular hypothesis is that immunotherapy is particularly effective against lung cancer and melanoma due to mutations making these cancer cells stand out more vividly from healthy tissues so the immune system can readily detect them.
Combining Immunotherapy with Other Treatments
There appears to be three main phenotypes in cancer patients that dictate their response to antibodies, from low to medium to high. Dr. Luke feels that combining immunotherapy with chemo and targeted therapies offers the most potential for long-term benefits.
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