The release of negative regulators of immune activation (immune checkpoints) that limit antitumor responses has resulted in unprecedented rates of long-lasting tumor responses in patients with a variety of cancers. This can be achieved by antibodies blocking the cytotoxic T lymphocyte-associated protein 4 (CTLA-4) or the programmed cell death 1 (PD-1) pathway, either alone or in combination. The main premise for inducing an immune response is the preexistence of antitumor T cells that were limited by specific immune checkpoints. Most patients who have tumor responses maintain long-lasting disease control, yet one-third of patients relapse. Mechanisms of acquired resistance are currently poorly understood, but evidence points to alterations that converge on the antigen presentation and interferon-γ signaling pathways. New-generation combinatorial therapies may overcome resistance mechanisms to immune checkpoint therapy.
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