Cancer immunotherapy represents the most dynamic field of biomedical research currently, with thoracic immuno-oncology as a forerunner. PD-(L)1 inhibitors are already part of standard first-line treatment for both non-small-cell and small-cell lung cancer, while unprecedented 5-year survival rates of 15-25% have been achieved in pretreated patients with metastatic disease. Evolving strategies are mainly aiming for improvement of T-cell function, increase of immune activation in the tumor microenvironment (TME), and supply of tumor-reactive lymphocytes. Several novel therapeutics have demonstrated preclinical efficacy and are increasingly used in rational combinations within clinical trials. Two overarching trends dominate: extension of immunotherapy to earlier disease stages, mainly as neoadjuvant treatment, and a shift of focus towards multivalent, individualized, mutatome-based antigen-specific modalities, mainly adoptive cell therapies and cancer vaccines. The former ensures ample availability of treated and untreated patient samples, the latter facilitates deeper mechanistic insights, and both in combination build an overwhelming force that is accelerating progress and driving the greatest revolution cancer medicine has seen so far. Today, immune modulation represents the most potent therapeutic modality in oncology, the most important topic in clinical and translational cancer research, and arguably our greatest, meanwhile justified hope for achieving cure of pulmonary neoplasms and other malignancies in the next future.
© 2020 S. Karger AG, Basel.