: Established evidence demonstrates that tumor-infiltrating myeloid cells promote rather than stop-cancer progression. Tumor-associated macrophages (TAMs) are abundantly present at tumor sites, and here they support cancer proliferation and distant spreading, as well as contribute to an immune-suppressive milieu. Their pro-tumor activities hamper the response of cancer patients to conventional therapies, such as chemotherapy or radiotherapy, and also to immunotherapies based on checkpoint inhibition. Active research frontlines of the last years have investigated novel therapeutic strategies aimed at depleting TAMs and/or at reprogramming their tumor-promoting effects, with the goal of re-establishing a favorable immunological anti-tumor response within the tumor tissue. In recent years, numerous clinical trials have included pharmacological strategies to target TAMs alone or in combination with other therapies. This review summarizes the past and current knowledge available on experimental tumor models and human clinical studies targeting TAMs for cancer treatment.
Keywords: cancer immunotherapy; clinical trials; immune suppression; immune system; tumor microenvironment; tumor-associated macrophages.
Conflict of interest statement
The authors declare no conflicts of interest. The authors certify that they have no affiliations with or involvement in any organization or entity with any financial interest or non-financial interest in the subject matter or materials discussed in this manuscript.
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