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11-11-2016 | Treatment | Article

Combinatorial immunotherapy for melanoma

D D George, V A Armenio, S C Katz


Melanoma has been a long-standing focal point for immunotherapy development. In this review, we explore the evolution of melanoma treatments with particular attention to the history and recent advances in melanoma immunotherapy. We also discuss novel combinations of these modalities and their potential to offer novel therapeutic options for patients with advanced melanoma.

Cancer Gene Ther 2017; 24: 141–147. doi:10.1038/cgt.2016.56

Perhaps more than any other solid tumor, immunotherapy has shown the greatest promise in the treatment of advanced melanoma. As an immunogenic tumor, it frequently shows tumor-infiltrating lymphocytes (TILs) and regression on histology. Although the immune system seems to recognize the tumor, it is unable to clear it completely in the majority of patients. This finding led clinicians to explore ways of stimulating the immune system to eradicate tumor cells. Several pivotal early immunotherapy successes occurred with trials treating patients with advanced melanoma. Although initial treatments were nonspecific and poorly tolerated, newer immunotherapy agents are more specific and have demonstrated an increase in durable response rates (RRs). To appreciate the application of immunotherapy for melanoma, a general understanding of the pathogenesis and disease biology is required.

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