Immunotherapy for glioblastoma: concepts and challenges

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Purpose of review

Immunotherapy is an emerging treatment strategy against various cancer types including glioblastoma. It comprises different strategies to induce, boost or restore an antitumor immune response. This review provides an overview of recent preclinical and clinical developments in the field of immunotherapy against glioblastoma. We elucidate the concepts and challenges and point out the strengths and weaknesses of the most promising immunotherapeutic approaches.

Recent findings

Immunotherapy is one of the most active research areas in glioblastoma. Data from preclinical work as well as phase I and phase II clinical trials revealed that immunotherapy against glioblastoma is overall well tolerated and able to promote a potent antitumor immune response. Among the therapeutic approaches that are currently under investigation, vaccination, for example, against the variant III of epidermal growth factor receptor, as well as immune checkpoint inhibition targeting receptors such as cytotoxic T lymphocyte-associated antigen-4 and programmed cell death-1, are among the most promising and advanced treatment strategies. However, there are considerable challenges to overcome such as the identification of novel target molecules for vaccination, appropriate patient selection criteria, strategies to prevent or handle immune-related adverse events, and the implementation of immunotherapy in multimodal treatment regimens together with conventional treatment strategies.


Key features of immunotherapy are target specificity, adaptability, and durability. Results from preclinical assessments and clinical trials applying immunotherapy alone or in combination with conventional treatment options are promising. However, intense research and stringent clinical development are required to optimize the available treatment options and to overcome potential pitfalls.

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