Introduction: Over the past few years, trials evaluating immunotherapies, particularly immune checkpoint inhibitors, have revolutionized the standard model of cancer treatment, demonstrating significant antitumor responses and improved clinical outcomes across a wide array of tumors types. Yet, despite these compelling data, a major limitation has been that only a fraction of patients mount a response to single-agent immune checkpoint inhibition. However, a growing amount of preclinical and clinical data suggests that combining immune checkpoint inhibition, either with other immune checkpoint inhibitors or with therapeutic cancer vaccines, has the potential to improve the proportion of patients seeing long-term durable responses with these therapies.
Areas covered: We have reviewed the reported data on immune checkpoint inhibition as monotherapy and as combination therapy with other immune checkpoint inhibitors or therapeutic cancer vaccines. Data is reviewed on agents with FDA approval or breakthrough designation as of the writing of this manuscript.
Expert opinion: Particular focus is given to the combination of immune checkpoint inhibitors and therapeutic cancer vaccines which has the potential to increase efficacy compared to single agent immune checkpoint inhibition with minimal added toxicity.
Keywords: Immune checkpoint inhibitors; immunogenic intensification; therapeutic cancer vaccines.