Targeted Therapies: Immunologic Effects and Potential Applications Outside of Cancer

J Clin Pharmacol. 2018 Jan;58(1):7-24. doi: 10.1002/jcph.1028. Epub 2017 Nov 14.


Two pharmacologic approaches that are currently at the forefront of treating advanced cancer are those that center on disrupting critical growth/survival signaling pathways within tumor cells (commonly referred to as "targeted therapies") and those that center on enhancing the capacity of a patient's immune system to mount an antitumor response (immunotherapy). Maximizing responses to both of these approaches requires an understanding of the oncogenic events present in a given patient's tumor and the nature of the tumor-immune microenvironment. Although these 2 modalities were developed and initially used independently, combination regimens are now being tested in clinical trials, underscoring the need to understand how targeted therapies influence immunologic events. Translational studies and preclinical models have demonstrated that targeted therapies can influence immune cell trafficking, the production of and response to chemokines and cytokines, antigen presentation, and other processes relevant to antitumor immunity and immune homeostasis. Moreover, because these and other effects of targeted therapies occur in nonmalignant cells, targeted therapies are being evaluated for use in applications outside of oncology.

Keywords: Drug Information; Immunopharmacology; Molecular Biology; Oncology; Pharmaceutical R & D.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Humans
  • Immunotherapy / methods
  • Medical Oncology / methods
  • Molecular Targeted Therapy / methods
  • Neoplasms / drug therapy*
  • Neoplasms / immunology*
  • Neoplasms / therapy