A review of glioblastoma immunotherapy

J Neurooncol. 2021 Jan;151(1):41-53. doi: 10.1007/s11060-020-03448-1. Epub 2020 Apr 6.


Introduction: Glioblastoma is a very aggressive cancer with dismal prognosis despite standard of care including surgical resection, radiation therapy, and chemotherapy. There is interest in applying immunotherapy to glioblastoma as this modality has demonstrated remarkable improvements in the management of several solid tumors including melanoma, renal cell carcinoma, and non-small cell lung cancer. This review aims to provide an overview of the current state of glioblastoma immunotherapy.

Methods: Literature search was performed on PubMed between 1961 and 2020.

Results: Initial clinical trials of checkpoint inhibitors and vaccine therapy for glioblastoma have largely been disappointing for both primary and recurrent glioblastoma. This failure has been attributed to glioblastoma's highly immunosuppressive environment and multiple mechanisms of therapy resistance including high tumor heterogeneity, low mutational burden, systemic immunosuppression, and local immune dysfunction.

Conclusions: Current clinical trials are exploring combination therapy and novel treatment strategies beyond immune checkpoint therapies and vaccine therapy such as CAR T cells. There is also an effort to establish synergy between immunotherapy and current standard of care. Furthermore, recent advances in personalized neoantigen vaccines suggest a shift towards personalized, patient-specific GBM treatment.

Keywords: GBM Immunotherapy; Glioblastoma; Immunotherapy.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Brain Neoplasms* / therapy
  • Carcinoma, Non-Small-Cell Lung
  • Glioblastoma* / therapy
  • Humans
  • Immunotherapy
  • Lung Neoplasms
  • Neoplasm Recurrence, Local