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Defining clinically useful biomarkers of immune checkpoint inhibitors in solid tumours.

Although more than a decade has passed since the approval of immune checkpoint inhibitors (ICIs) for the treatment of melanoma and non-small-cell lung, breast and gastrointestinal cancers, many patients still show limited response. US Food and Drug Administration (FDA)-approved biomarkers include programmed cell death 1 ligand 1 (PDL1) expression, microsatellite status (that is, microsatellite instability-high (MSI-H)) and tumour mutational burden (TMB), but these have limited utility and/or lack standardized testing approaches for pan-cancer applications. Tissue-based analytes (such as tumour gene signatures, tumour antigen presentation or tumour microenvironment profiles) show a correlation with immune response, but equally, these demonstrate limited efficacy, as they represent a single time point and a single spatial assessment. Patient heterogeneity as well as inter- and intra-tumoural differences across different tissue sites and time points represent substantial challenges for static biomarkers. However, dynamic biomarkers such as longitudinal biopsies or novel, less-invasive markers such as blood-based biomarkers, radiomics and the gut microbiome show increasing potential for the dynamic identification of ICI response, and patient-tailored predictors identified through neoadjuvant trials or novel ex vivo tumour models can help to personalize treatment. In this Perspective, we critically assess the multiple new static, dynamic and patient-specific biomarkers, highlight the newest consortia and trial efforts, and provide recommendations for future clinical trials to make meaningful steps forwards in the field.

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