In spite of the recent approval of new promising targeted therapies, the clinical outcome of patients with acute myeloid leukemia (AML) remains suboptimal, prompting the search for additional and synergistic therapeutic rationales. It is increasingly evident that the bone marrow immune environment of AML patients is profoundly altered, contributing to the severity of the disease but also providing several windows of opportunity to prompt or rewire a proficient antitumor immune surveillance. In this Review, we present current evidence on immune defects in AML, discuss the challenges with selective targeting of AML cells, and summarize the clinical results and immunologic insights from studies that are testing the latest immunotherapy approaches to specifically target AML cells (antibodies, cellular therapies) or more broadly reactivate antileukemia immunity (vaccines, checkpoint blockade). Given the complex interactions between AML cells and the many components of their environment, it is reasonable to surmise that the future of immunotherapy in AML lies in the rational combination of complementary immunotherapeutic strategies with chemotherapeutics or other oncogenic pathway inhibitors. Identifying reliable biomarkers of response to improve patient selection and avoid toxicities will be critical in this process.
Luca Vago, Ivana Gojo
Cellular therapy for hematologic malignancies is a rapidly evolving field, with new iterations of novel constructs being developed at a rapid pace. Since the initial reports of chimeric antigen receptor T cell (CAR T cell)success in CD19+ B cell malignancies, multiple clinical trials of CAR T cell therapy directed to CD19 have led to the approval of this therapy by the FDA and the European Medicines Agency for specific indications. Despite strikingly similar efficacy, investigators at multiple centers participating in these studies have observed the nuances of each CAR T cell product, including variability in manufacturing, availability, and toxicity profiles. Here we review state-of-the-art clinical data on CD19-directed CAR T cell therapies in B cell hematologic malignancies, advances made in understanding and modeling associated toxicities, and several exciting advances and creative solutions for overcoming challenges with this therapeutic modality.
Matthew J. Frigault, Marcela V. Maus
Multiple myeloma (MM), a bone marrow–resident hematological malignancy of plasma cells, has remained largely incurable despite dramatic improvements in patient outcomes in the era of myeloma-targeted and immunomodulatory agents. It has recently become clear that T cells from MM patients are able to recognize and eliminate myeloma, although this is subverted in the majority of patients who eventually succumb to progressive disease. T cell exhaustion and a suppressive bone marrow microenvironment have been implicated in disease progression, and once these are established, immunotherapy appears largely ineffective. Autologous stem cell transplantation (ASCT) is a standard of care in eligible patients and results in immune effects beyond cytoreduction, including lymphodepletion, T cell priming via immunogenic cell death, and inflammation; all occur within the context of a disrupted bone marrow microenvironment. Recent studies suggest that ASCT reestablishes immune equilibrium and thus represents a logical platform in which to intervene to prevent immune escape. New immunotherapies based on checkpoint inhibition targeting the immune receptor TIGIT and the deletion of suppressive myeloid populations appear attractive, particularly after ASCT. Finally, the immunologically favorable environment created after ASCT may also represent an opportunity for approaches utilizing bispecific antibodies or chimeric antigen receptor (CAR) T cells.
Simone A. Minnie, Geoffrey R. Hill
The functional state of the preexisting T cells in the tumor microenvironment is a key determinant for effective antitumor immunity and immunotherapy. Increasing evidence suggests that immunosenescence is an important state of T cell dysfunction that is distinct from exhaustion, a key strategy used by malignant tumors to evade immune surveillance and sustain the suppressive tumor microenvironment. Here, we discuss the phenotypic and functional characteristics of senescent T cells and their role in human cancers. We also explore the possible mechanisms and signaling pathways responsible for induction of T cell senescence by malignant tumors, and then discuss potential strategies to prevent and/or reverse senescence in tumor-specific T cells. A better understanding of these critical issues should provide novel strategies to enhance cancer immunotherapy.
Xia Liu, Daniel F. Hoft, Guangyong Peng
Sickle cell anemia is a unique disease dominated by hemolytic anemia and vaso-occlusive events. The latter trigger a version of ischemia/reperfusion (I/R) pathobiology that is singular in its origin, cyclicity, complexity, instability, perpetuity, and breadth of clinical consequences. Specific clinical features are probably attributable to local I/R injury (e.g., stroke syndromes) or remote organ injury (e.g., acute chest syndrome) or the systematization of inflammation (e.g., multifocal arteriopathy). Indeed, by fashioning an underlying template of endothelial dysfunction and vulnerability, the robust inflammatory systematization no doubt contributes to all sickle pathology. In this Review, we highlight I/R–targeting therapeutics shown to improve microvascular blood flow in sickle transgenic mice undergoing I/R, and we suggest how such insights might be translated into human therapeutic strategies.
Robert P. Hebbel, John D. Belcher, Gregory M. Vercellotti
Lymphoid malignancies typically promote an infiltrate of immune cells at sites involved by the disease. While some of the immune cells present in lymphoma have effector function, the immune system is unable to eradicate the malignant clone. Therapies that optimize immune function therefore have the potential to improve the outcome of lymphoma patients. In this Review, we discuss immunologic approaches that directly target the malignant cell as well as approaches to optimize both the innate and adaptive immune response to the tumor. While many of these therapies have shown single-agent activity, the future will clearly require thoughtful combinations of these approaches.
Stephen M. Ansell, Yi Lin
Real-world data (RWD) continue to emerge as a new source of clinical evidence. Although the best-known use case of RWD has been in drug regulation, RWD are being generated and used by many other parties, including biopharmaceutical companies, payors, clinical researchers, providers, and patients. In this Review, we describe 21 potential uses for RWD across the spectrum of health care. We also discuss important challenges and limitations relevant to the translation of these data into evidence.
Vivek A. Rudrapatna, Atul J. Butte
Hematological malignancies have long been at the forefront of the development of novel immune-based treatment strategies. The earliest successful efforts originated from the extensive body of work in the field of allogeneic hematopoietic stem cell transplantation. These efforts laid the foundation for the recent exciting era of cancer immunotherapy, which includes immune checkpoint blockade, personal neoantigen vaccines, and adoptive T cell transfer. At the heart of the specificity of these novel strategies is the recognition of target antigens presented by malignant cells to T cells. Here, we review the advances in systematic identification of minor histocompatibility antigens and neoantigens arising from personal somatic alterations or recurrent driver mutations. These exciting efforts pave the path for the implementation of personalized combinatorial cancer therapy.
Livius Penter, Catherine J. Wu
Signaling by the TGF-β superfamily is important in the regulation of hematopoiesis and is dysregulated in myelodysplastic syndromes (MDSs), contributing to ineffective hematopoiesis and clinical cytopenias. TGF-β, activins, and growth differentiation factors exert inhibitory effects on red cell formation by activating canonical SMAD2/3 pathway signaling. In this Review, we summarize evidence that overactivation of SMAD2/3 signaling pathways in MDSs causes anemia due to impaired erythroid maturation. We also describe the basis for biological activity of activin receptor ligand traps, novel fusion proteins such as luspatercept that are promising as erythroid maturation agents to alleviate anemia and related comorbidities in MDSs and other conditions characterized by impaired erythroid maturation.
Amit Verma, Rajasekhar N.V.S. Suragani, Srinivas Aluri, Nishi Shah, Tushar D. Bhagat, Mark J. Alexander, Rami Komrokji, Ravi Kumar
Technological advances in rapid data acquisition have transformed medical biology into a data mining field, where new data sets are routinely dissected and analyzed by statistical models of ever-increasing complexity. Many hypotheses can be generated and tested within a single large data set, and even small effects can be statistically discriminated from a sea of noise. On the other hand, the development of therapeutic interventions moves at a much slower pace. They are determined from carefully randomized and well-controlled experiments with explicitly stated outcomes as the principal mechanism by which a single hypothesis is tested. In this paradigm, only a small fraction of interventions can be tested, and an even smaller fraction are ultimately deemed therapeutically successful. In this Review, we propose strategies to leverage large-cohort data to inform the selection of targets and the design of randomized trials of novel therapeutics. Ultimately, the incorporation of big data and experimental medicine approaches should aim to reduce the failure rate of clinical trials as well as expedite and lower the cost of drug development.
Eugene Melamud, D. Leland Taylor, Anurag Sethi, Madeleine Cule, Anastasia Baryshnikova, Danish Saleheen, Nick van Bruggen, Garret A. FitzGerald
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