Immunotherapy approaches to beat tumors

Alexandre Morrot


To understand the role, as well as the successes and prospects, of cancer immunotherapy, we must first take a glance at how the immune response works and behaves in the attack of tumor cells. Our immune system has the crucial function of fighting infectious agents and is at the ready to use this arsenal to prevent the emergence and expansion of cancer cells (1). At the same time, it has some counter-regulatory mechanisms to avoid an exaggerated reaction, which could be detrimental to the body itself. It is from this somewhat dynamic, yet generally balanced immune battlefield, that cancer takes advantage to gain ground. Tumor cells are able to escape the immune system in two ways: by hiding from our defenses or directly inhibiting the action of immune cells against tumor cells (1,2).