The future of cancer treatment: immunomodulation, CARs and combination immunotherapy

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| In the past decade, advances in the use of monoclonal antibodies (mAbs) and adoptive cellular therapy to treat cancer by modulating the immune response have led to unprecedented responses in patients with advanced-stage tumours that would otherwise have been fatal. To date, three immune-checkpoint-blocking mAbs have been approved in the USA for the treatment of patients with several types of cancer, and more patients will benefit from immunomodulatory mAb therapy in the months and years ahead. Concurrently, the adoptive transfer of genetically modified lymphocytes to treat patients with haematological malignancies has yielded dramatic results, and we anticipate that this approach will rapidly become the standard of care for an increasing number of patients. In this Review, we highlight the latest advances in immunotherapy and discuss the role that it will have in the future of cancer treatment, including settings for which testing combination strategies and ‘armoured’ CAR T cells are recommended.

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