Cancer immunotherapy aims to harness the innate ability of the immune system to recognize and destroy malignant cells. Immunotherapy for malignant gliomas is an emerging field that promises the possibility of highly specific and less toxic treatment compared to conventional chemotherapy. In addition, immunotherapy has the added benefit of sustained efficacy once immunologic memory is induced. Although there are numerous therapeutic agents that boost general immune function and facilitate improved antitumor immunity, to date, immunotherapy for gliomas has focused primarily on active vaccination against tumor-specific antigens. The results of numerous early phase clinical trials demonstrate promising results for vaccine therapy, but no therapy has yet proven to improve survival in a randomized, controlled trial. The major barrier to immunotherapy in malignant gliomas is tumor-induced immunosuppression. The mechanisms of immunosuppression are only now being elucidated, but clearly involve a combination of factors including regulatory T cells, tumor-associated PD-L1 expression, and CTLA-4 signaling. Immunomodulatory agents have been developed to combat these immunosuppressive factors and have demonstrated efficacy in other cancers. The future of glioma immunotherapy likely lies in a combination of active vaccination and immune checkpoint inhibition.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Cancer Research