By Pierre DODION Executive Vice President and Chief Medical Officer, Innate Pharma & Hatem A. AZIM Medical Director Clinical Development, Innate Pharma
Boosting the immune response, particularly by administrating cytokines, to kill cancer is a concept that has been examined in the clinic several decades ago. However, clinical benefit was dismal and arrived at the expense of considerable toxicity. Yet, with long term observation particularly in kidney cancer, it was interesting to find that some of these responses were durable with about 5-10% of the patients achieving long term remissions.
Over the last decade, remarkable progress has been made in understanding the key role of the immune system in controlling and killing of cancer. Among the key milestones was the recognition that there are signals responsible for activating the immune system to elicit an anti-tumor response. These signals are often disrupted in cancer by the so called “checkpoints”. This has led to the development of several agents referred to as “checkpoint inhibitors” that are currently revolutionizing the way malignant tumors are treated and hold a huge potential of changing the landscape of cancer management for many years to come.