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Novel Immunotherapeutics: Perspectives on Checkpoints, Bispecifics, and Vaccines in Development.

Over the past decade, the advent of molecular techniques and deeper understanding of the tumor microenvironment (TME) have enabled the development of a multitude of immunotherapy targets and approaches. Despite the revolutionary advancement in immunotherapy, treatment resistance remains a challenge leading to decreased response rate in a significant proportion of patients. As such, there has recently been an evolving focus to enhance efficacy, durability, and toxicity profiles of immunotherapy. Although immune checkpoint inhibitors have revolutionized cancer treatment with many already-approved antibodies and several others in the pipeline, bispecific antibodies build on their success in an attempt to deliver an even more potent immune response against tumor cells. On the other hand, vaccines comprise the oldest and most versatile form of immunotherapy. Peptide and nucleic acid vaccines are relatively simple to manufacture compared with oncolytic virus-based vaccines, whereas the dendritic cell vaccines are the most complex, requiring autologous cell culture. Nevertheless, a crucial question in the development of cancer vaccines is the choice of antigen whereby shared and patient-private antigen approaches are currently being pursued. There is hope that cancer vaccines will join the repertoire of successful novel immunotherapeutics in the market. Better insights into the impact of immunotherapy on effector T cells and other immune cell populations in the TME shall be a major priority across the immune-oncology discipline and can help identify predictive biomarkers to evaluate response to treatment and identify patients who would most likely benefit from immunotherapy.

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