CHICAGO—The body of literature on immunosuppressive drugs used to treat cancer and autoimmune diseases is growing, helping bring some clarity to their effects on the immune system and how well they work in patients. This has helped refine the questions that further research must answer, said an expert at the 2018 ACR/ARHP Annual Meeting.
Explore this issueFebruary 2019
Also by this Author
The need for reliable information to guide clinicians is obvious: A “tidal wave of cancer immunotherapy” is hitting, with the approach now considered the fourth pillar of cancer treatment alongside the mainstays of surgical removal, chemotherapy and radiation, said Leonard Calabrese, DO, head of the Clinical Immunology Division at Cleveland Clinic, Ohio.
When activated, immune checkpoints, such as CTLA4 and PD-1 (the two prominent players in cancer treatment thus far), downregulate activated T cells, tamping down the immune response. Inhibiting them enhances the immune response. More than 160 checkpoint inhibitors (CPIs) are in preclinical and clinical trials, so their presence on the cancer stage will grow more pronounced, Dr. Calabrese said.