The successful treatment of hematological malignancies remains challenging.
Prognosis is often dismal given the frequency of disease relapse or treatment refractory
disease. Cytotoxic and cytostatic chemotherapy remain mainstream therapeutics
for most hematological malignancies. However, improved understanding of tumor
immunobiology is providing appealing anti-cancer strategies targeting selected component
of immune response. Since approval of rituximab for treating B cell malignancies in
1997, availability of monoclonal antibodies against tumor specific surface molecules has
driven the development of the emerging field of cancer immunotherapy. This strategy of
modulating the immune response is taking an increasingly prominent role in the treatment
of hematological malignancies with several new antibody-based therapeutics becoming
available for patients with leukemia/lymphoma. In addition, with an increasingly
appreciated role for T cell immunity in cancer pathogenesis, strategies enhancing T cell activation as well as
inhibiting T cell suppression mechanisms are under active development. Therapeutic vaccines to improve
efficacy of antigen processing and presentation, agonists for co-stimulatory molecules, adoptive transfer of
genetically-modified T cells, as well as agents that suppress negative regulatory pathways for T cell function
are all under active clinical investigation. Although most of these studies are in early stages, preliminary data
are very promising. Availability of additional immune-based therapeutic options for patients with hematological
malignancies is anticipated in the near future.
Keywords: Hematological malignancy, immunotherapy, immune checkpoint inhibitor, leukemia, lymphoma, T cell immunity.
Rights & PermissionsPrintExport