Emerging Role of Immunotherapy for Childhood Cancers

Rupert Handgretinger; Patrick Schlegel


Chin Clin Oncol. 2018;7(2) 

In This Article

Abstract and Introduction


Recent developments in cell and gene therapy have a great impact on the new therapeutic approaches in pediatric cancers. Monoclonal antibodies for neuroblastoma and bispecific antibodies for leukemia have induced significant clinical responses for otherwise chemorefractory patients. Moreover, cellular therapeutic approaches including chimeric antigen receptor (CAR) T-cells as well as natural killer (NK) cells have the potential to cure patients with so far incurable malignancies and are the basis for future new therapies for pediatric cancer. Newer generations of cellular therapies, further development and improvement of such new strategies and their earlier use in therapeutic strategies will hopefully allow to significantly reduce the chemotherapeutic burden for children with cancer while increasing the cure rate.


While adjuvant or neoadjuvant chemotherapy, surgery and radiation are still the major pillars in the treatment of pediatric malignancies, tremendous progress has been made in the treatment of patients who are either refractory or who have relapsed after current standard therapies. Recent developments have fundamentally changed immunotherapeutic approaches to adult patients with cancer, but also to pediatric malignancies. In contrast to adult cancers, the most frequent malignancy in children is acute leukemias, followed by brain tumors, lymphomas, neuroblastoma and various forms of sarcomas. Here, we will review successes, challenges and future perspectives of different immunotherapeutic approaches to the main pediatric malignancies