Introduction: Non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) is one of the main causes of cancer-related deaths worldwide. Although new therapies have become available, innovative treatments are still needed for advanced disease. Ipilimumab , a monoclonal antibody targeting cytotoxic T-lymphocyte antigen 4 (CTLA-4), enhances the immune response against the tumor mass and has been proven effective against malignant melanoma.
Areas covered: The authors explored the role of ipilimumab in NSCLC using a literature review. The clinical trials involving ipilimumab for lung cancer have shown progression-free survival (PFS) benefits. The use of ipilimumab is related to unusual adverse events resulting from increased or excessive immune activity. Because ipilimumab shows unique response patterns, more suitable criteria known as immune-related response criteria (ir-RC), different from RECIST and WHO criteria, are required.
Expert opinion: Although NSCLC is not known as an immunogenic-mediated malignancy, in the past few years, the authors have observed an increasing interest in the development of therapies able to modulate the immune response including vaccines and non-specific immunoregulatory drugs (such as ipilimumab). Ipilimumab may become a new, powerful strategy for the management of NSCLC patients. Further investigation is needed to confirm the optimal treatment schedule and determine the potential predictors of response to the CTLA-4 blockade.