Newer with RT. Immunotherapy has had a resurgence in the past few years primarily in the treatment of melanoma. This is branching into other cancers. As a radiation oncologist, we are still exploring how best to integrate radiation treatments with immunotherapy. There is some promosing information that radiation or thermal ablation may help to potentiate the immunoresponse that immunotherapy causes.
New approach. There have been vaccines and other immune approaches, but lately they have taken a new direction. The pathways that put the brakes on immune response have been worked out and an antibody is used to remove the break in the system. The drug is used in melanoma. Also immune cells can't attack some lung cancer cells well. The system that is involved has been attacked with an antibody experimentally.
CAR T-cells. Here at the Fred Hutch we are conducting clinical trials of chimeric antigen receptor (CAR) T cells. An antibody gene is fused to the T cell receptor and put into the patients own T lymphocytes. When infused back into patients, dramatic responses have occurred in patients with ALL and lymphoma. Side effects are like having a severe infection. It is being tested in other tumor types like breast CA.
Unlock immunity. Immunotherapy may be able to unlock the therapeutic potential of the immune system against cancer. This includes therapeutic vaccines and immune checkpoint inhibitors. The vaccines are generally very well tolerated but don't lead to rapid shrinkage of tumors. Many of these agents are still experimental.