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Understanding and overcoming resistance to immunotherapy in genitourinary cancers.

Cancer Biology & Therapy 2024 December 32
The introduction of novel immunotherapies has significantly transformed the treatment landscape of genitourinary (GU) cancers, even becoming the standard of care in some settings. One such type of immunotherapy, immune checkpoint inhibitors (ICIs) like nivolumab, ipilimumab, pembrolizumab, and atezolizumab play a pivotal role by disturbing signaling pathways that limit the immune system's ability to fight tumor cells. Despite the profound impact of these treatments, not all tumors are responsive. Recent research efforts have been focused on understanding how cancer cells manage to evade the immune response and identifying the possible mechanisms behind resistance to immunotherapy. In response, ICIs are being combined with other treatments to reduce resistance and attack cancer cells through multiple cellular pathways. Additionally, novel, targeted strategies are currently being investigated to develop innovative methods of overcoming resistance and treatment failure. This article presents a comprehensive overview of the mechanisms of immunotherapy resistance in GU cancers as currently described in the literature. It explores studies that have identified genetic markers, cytokines, and proteins that may predict resistance or response to immunotherapy. Additionally, we review current efforts to overcome this resistance, which include combination ICIs and sequential therapies, novel insights into the host immune profile, and new targeted therapies. Various approaches that combine immunotherapy with chemotherapy, targeted therapy, vaccines, and radiation have been studied in an effort to more effectively overcome resistance to immunotherapy. While each of these combination therapies has shown some efficacy in clinical trials, a deeper understanding of the immune system's role underscores the potential of novel targeted therapies as a particularly promising area of current research. Currently, several targeted agents are in development, along with the identification of key immune mediators involved in immunotherapy resistance. Further research is necessary to identify predictors of response.

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