Immunological-based approaches for cancer therapy
Keywords:Cancer Immunology, Immunotherapy, Gene Therapy
The immunologic landscape of tumors has been continuously unveiled, providing a new look at the interactions between cancer cells and the immune system. Emerging tumor cells are constantly eliminated by the immune system, but some cells establish a long-term equilibrium phase leading to tumor immunoediting and, eventually, evasion. During this process, tumor cells tend to acquire more mutations. Bearing a high mutation burden leads to a greater number of neoantigens with the potential to initiate an immune response. Although many tumors evoke an immune response, tumor clearance by the immune system does not occur due to a suppressive tumor microenvironment. The mechanisms by which tumors achieve the ability to evade immunologic control vary. Understanding these differences is crucial for the improvement and application of new immune-based therapies. Much effort has been placed in developing in silico algorithms to predict tumor immunogenicity and to characterize the microenvironment via high-throughput sequencing and gene expression techniques. Each sequencing source, transcriptomics, and genomics yields a distinct level of data, helping to elucidate the tumor-based immune responses and guiding the fine-tuning of current and upcoming immune-based therapies. In this review, we explore some of the immunological concepts behind the new immunotherapies and the bioinformatic tools to study the immunological aspects of tumors, focusing on neoantigen determination and microenvironment deconvolution. We further discuss the immune-based therapies already in clinical use, those underway for future clinical application, the next steps in immunotherapy, and how the characterization of the tumor immune contexture can impact therapies aiming to promote or unleash immune-based tumor elimination.