The last decade has seen substantial growth of immunotherapy treatments for cancer. The new immunotherapies have produced exciting results in terms of response rates to treatment for certain cancers, such as melanoma, which have been refractory to treatment, once substantial metastasis has occurred. The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved several antibodies against immune checkpoint inhibitors based on the encouraging results in clinical trials. Other types of immune therapies are also being developed which may also be useful in the treatment of cancer.

New antibody/cytokine fusion proteins, anti-CD 137 monoclonal antibodies (mabs) for stimulating cells of the immune system, more refined uses of cytokines in immunotherapy treatments, cancer vaccines, use of genetically engineered T cells to specifically target tumors, new techniques in stimulating the innate immune system and combinations of immunotherapies have great potential for being effective treatment options for cancer treatment in the future.

Challenges, however, remain to perfect these therapies for use in the clinic for cancer treatment. The nature of these challenges are scientific, clinical and regulatory. Scientific challenges include defining the appropriate tumor types for an appropriate immunotherapy, the conditions under which various cells of the immune system would be activated and determining how best to manipulate them to allow for maximum tumor cell destruction, finding better ways to circumvent cancer cell suppression of immune cell responses and using new techniques to prevent or ameliorate the nonspecific injury to normal tissue that can occur as a side effect of immunotherapeutic treatment. 

Clinical challenges include ensuring there is adequate quality control in manufacturing process to supply the agent in pure enough form for clinical trials, obtaining enough patients that meet inclusion criteria, designing clinical trials that will yield adequate information to assess the safety and efficacy of the treatment and defining appropriate endpoints for a cancer clinical trial to effectively interpret clinical data gained from the clinical trial.

Regulatory challenges can occur at multiple levels for companies or entities trying to gain FDA approval for their immunotherapy technique or product. These challenges can be at the preclinical level, clinical or manufacturing levels. Adherence to regulations governing Good Laboratory Practices, Good Clinical Practices, and Good Manufacturing Practices can be problematic when trying to take immunological reagents or cellular treatments from the research laboratory to the cancer treatment clinic.

Despite the challenges when conducting research and treatment with immunotherapies, the intense level of research and data being generated with immunotherapies for cancer will ensure that a wide variety of new therapies will be possible in the coming years.

June 18-20, 2019
Park Central Hotel,
San Francisco

The next generatoin proteins conference looking beyond antibodies to transform promising proteins into next generation medicine

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Creating New Pathways for the Development, Translation, and Delivery of Immunotherapies

June 5-7, 2017
Paradise Point San Diego,
San Diego, CA

Next Generation Protein Therapeutics & Bioconjugates Summit
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