From the Journals

Immunotherapy overtaking breast cancer treatment landscape



Combination treatment strategies that include immunotherapeutic agents are expected to become the future of breast cancer treatment, according to a review.

“There is tremendous interest in using immunotherapy to treat breast cancer, as evidenced by the more than 290 clinical trials ongoing,” wrote Sylvia Adams, MD, MS, of New York University, along with her colleagues. The report is in JAMA Oncology.

“It is anticipated that combination therapy strategies will be the way forward for immunotherapy in breast cancer, with an improved understanding of tumor, microenvironment, and host factors informing treatment combination decisions, they said.

Dr. Adams and her colleagues searched major databases for clinical trials investigating the use of immunotherapy in both early-stage and metastatic breast cancer.

After the search, the team found that immune checkpoint blockade (ICB) agents were the most studied type of immunotherapy in breast cancer today.

In addition, Dr. Adams and her colleagues reported that when UCB agents were used as monotherapy in patients with breast cancer, objective responses have been seen, especially when given in the initial stages of treatment. “For responding patients, those responses are durable,” they added.

Recent findings have indicated that combining immune checkpoint blockade agents with chemotherapy may be useful in early breast cancer as neoadjuvant therapy.

“Combination trials were more common than single-agent studies, with the most commonly combined modalities being chemotherapy or targeted therapy,” the researchers wrote.

The review is limited by the rapid advancement of the current treatment landscape. As a result, additional data may now be available beyond the date of publication.

“Thoughtful study design incorporating appropriate end points and correlative studies will be critical in identifying optimal strategies for enhancing the immune response against breast tumors,” they concluded.

No funding sources were reported. The authors reported financial affiliations with Amgen, Celgene, Genentech, Eli Lilly, Ipsen, Novartis, Pfizer, and several others.

SOURCE: Adams S et al. JAMA Oncol. 2019 Apr 11. doi: 10.1001/jamaoncol.2018.7147.

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