Rethinking the immunotherapy numbers game

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Abstract

Immunotherapies are a major breakthrough in oncology, yielding unprecedented response rates for some cancers. Especially in combination with conventional treatments or targeted agents, immunotherapeutics offer invaluable tools to improve outcomes for many patients. However, why not all patients have a favorable response remains unclear. There is an increasing appreciation of the contributions of the complex tumor microenvironment, and the tumor-immune ecosystem in particular, to treatment outcome. To date, however, there exists no immune biomarker to explain why two patients with similar clinical stage and molecular profile would have different treatment outcomes. We hypothesize that it is critical to understand both the immune and tumor states to understand how the complex system will respond to treatment. Here, we present how integrated mathematical oncology approaches can help conceptualize the effect of various immunotherapies on a patient's tumor and local immune environment, and how combinations of immunotherapy and cytotoxic therapy may be used to improve tumor response and control and limit toxicity on a per patient basis.

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Bekker, R. A., Zahid, M. U., Binning, J. M., Spring, B. Q., Hwu, P., Pilon-Thomas, S., & Enderling, H. (2022). Rethinking the immunotherapy numbers game. Journal for ImmunoTherapy of Cancer, 10(7). https://doi.org/10.1136/jitc-2022-005107

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