With the advent of Bacille Calmette Guerin (BCG), bladder cancer was one
of the earliest cancers where the concept of immunotherapy was utilized. While this is
true, recent advances in the use of immunotherapy are enabling oncologists to expand
the armamentarium for the treatment of bladder cancer. Unacceptable side effects and
failure to produce a durable response with the use of chemotherapeutic agents in bladder
cancer has led to the evaluation of more targeted and personalized approaches.
Increased understanding of the underlying carcinogenesis of bladder cancer, coupled
with the ability to engineer targeted agents implicated in bladder cancer associated
pathways has provided new avenues for the management of this disease. Newer immunotherapeutic
approaches have generated a great deal of interest in bladder cancer
along with other diseases. In this article we will focus on various forms of immunotherapies
that may have a therapeutic potential in bladder cancer. We will briefly review the current status
of “non-targeted” immunotherapeutic agents like BCG, interferons and interleukins in bladder cancer. But
the main focus of this article is to discuss the emerging role of “targeted” immunotherapeutic agents like
cytotoxic T cell lymphocyte associated protein-4 blocking antibody and programmed death pathway
blocking antibodies in localized or metastatic bladder cancer.
Keywords: Bladder cancer, cytokines, immunotherapy, interferon, PD1 inhibitors, PD-L1 inhibitors.
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