What is immunotherapeutic targeting of cancers in pediatric oncology?

Updated: Mar 20, 2018
  • Author: Crystal L Mackall, MD; Chief Editor: Jennifer Reikes Willert, MD  more...
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The backbone of cancer therapy in pediatric oncology has been stepwise integration of multimodality therapies (eg, chemotherapy, surgery, radiation therapy) into carefully designed treatment regimens tested sequentially through multicenter randomized trials. Although chemotherapy has been effective in eradicating micrometastatic disease in some conditions and remains a principal determinant of success, the toxicity associated with current cytotoxics is substantial, and current agents have not proven curative in several clinical groups.

Hence, the need is growing for the development of effective, alternative anticancer therapies for use in children with tumors. Dramatic progress in technology has improved our understanding of the basic biology of tumor immunology, and immune-based therapies represent one approach that could be integrated into current multimodal regimens to eradicate micrometastatic disease.

Immunotherapeutic targeting of cancers is an attractive, novel modality that could be used either in conjunction with conventional therapies or separate from these therapies. Evidence currently suggests that the mechanisms responsible for resistance to cytotoxic agents generally do not confer resistance to immune-mediated mechanisms of tumor-cell killing. [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6]

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