The immunotherapy of cancer has made significant strides in the past few years due to improved understanding of the underlying principles of tumor biology and immunology. These principles have been critical in the development of immunotherapy in the laboratory and in the implementation of immunotherapy in the clinic. This improved understanding of immunotherapy, enhanced by increased insights into the mechanism of tumor immune response and its evasion by tumors, now permits manipulation of this interaction and elucidates the therapeutic role of immunity in cancer. Also important, this improved understanding of immunotherapy and the mechanisms underlying immunity in cancer has fueled an expanding array of new therapeutic agents for a variety of cancers. Pegylated interferon-α2b as an adjuvant therapy and ipilimumab as therapy for advanced disease, both of which were approved by the United States Food and Drug Administration for melanoma in March 2011, are 2 prime examples of how an increased understanding of the principles of tumor biology and immunology have been translated successfully from the laboratory to the clinical setting. Principles that guide the development and application of immunotherapy include antibodies, cytokines, vaccines, and cellular therapies. The identification and further elucidation of the role of immunotherapy in different tumor types, and the development of strategies for combining immunotherapy with cytotoxic and molecularly targeted agents for future multimodal therapy for cancer will enable even greater progress and ultimately lead to improved outcomes for patients receiving cancer immunotherapy.
Copyright © 2012 American Cancer Society, Inc.