Immunotherapy is emerging as a major treatment for patients with cancer, predominantly via blocking immune inhibitory pathways and through adoptive T cell therapy. However, only a subset of patients shows clinical responses to these interventions. Emerging data indicates a correlation between clinical response and a pre-existing T cell-inflamed tumor microenvironment. Tumor-intrinsic β-catenin activation has been identified as mediating exclusion of T cells from the tumor microenvironment and other oncogene pathways are being explored similarly. Understanding the molecular mechanisms underlying immune avoidance should identify new therapeutic targets for expanding efficacy of immunotherapies.
Keywords: Cancer immunotherapy; T cell infiltration; T cell-inflamed tumor; checkpoint blockade; non-T cell inflamed tumor; tumor immune evasion.