Is there any place for immune-checkpoint inhibitors in the treatment algorithm of fusion-driven non-small cell lung cancer?-a literature review

Transl Lung Cancer Res. 2020 Dec;9(6):2674-2685. doi: 10.21037/tlcr-20-710.


The advent of immune-checkpoint inhibitors (ICIs) targeting the programmed death-1 (PD-1)/programmed death ligand-1 (PD-L1) axis, produced a paradigm change of the treatment algorithm for metastatic, non-oncogene addicted, non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC). However, the majority of patients with oncogene-addicted disease have been excluded from the "immunotherapy revolution", thus the clinical efficacy of these agents in this subset of patients remains largely unknown. Although pre-clinical evidence provided a good rationale to pursue the investigation of ICI treatment in specific subgroups of oncogene-addicted NSCLC, current available evidence suggested that tumors harboring molecular alterations likely do not represent the best candidate to single agent ICI therapy. Furthermore, the prospect of further improving overall survival (OS) with the combination of tyrosine kinase inhibitors (TKIs) and ICIs led to unexpected poor results and safety issues in recent phase I trials exploring different therapeutic associations. Conversely, the combination of immunotherapy and chemotherapy is emerging as a potential effective strategy in specific subsets of NSCLC patients harboring oncogenic drivers. In this review we particularly focus on the subgroup of patients whose disease harbor oncogenic rearrangements, summarizing current evidence from preclinical and clinical studies and discussing their practical implications, in order to define the potential role of ICIs in the clinical management of fusion-driven NSCLC.

Keywords: Immune-checkpoint inhibitors (ICIs); fusion; non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC); programmed death-1/programmed death ligand-1 (PD-1/PD-L1); rearrangements.

Publication types

  • Review