Chemotherapy has long been the traditional and favored treatment option for cancer patients. It is no secret that while chemotherapy has a robust wake of effectiveness, its regimen wreaks havoc on the patient’s body and mind.
Immuno-Oncology Is Advancing Quickly
As more patients request more (and more tolerable) treatments for their various cancers, experts are heavily investing in research and development of alternative therapies and treatment options. This research and development allow for greater understanding of current therapies, and wider freedom to tangibly create new ways to save patient lives, with the quality of throughout treatment intact.
Advances in immuno-oncology and regulatory approvals have been so swift in recent experiences, they’ve been able to treat malignant cancers that have otherwise been difficult to treat.
- Immune checkpoint inhibitors (ICI)
- Protein synthesis and site-specific conjugation
- Immune modulators
- Smart microenvironment agents
- Cell-based therapies
- Precision cancer treatment through immunotherapy
- Oncolytic viruses
Immuno Oncology Clinical Trials: Where are we?
While emerging cancer treatments are changing the scope of life and hope for cancer patients across the globe, the indulgence in clinical research and development has opened, perhaps too wide, leaving a trail and questions, and uncertainties in the effectiveness and definitive variables of trials.
Are There Any Limitations to Advancing Technology?
With all newly emerging techniques and modes of understanding, within the context of evolving medical technology, come some limiting factors to how the technology can be applied.
Present limitations include the following:
- The uncertainty of optimal treatment dosing/duration
- Insufficient understanding of long-term effects
- Treatment of underrepresented patients
Optimal Treatment Dosing and Duration
While trials are new and ongoing, data is presently inconclusive regarding a definitive optimal dosing strategy. In efforts to offset the unknown dosing and duration of treatment, predictive biomarkers are being more thoroughly evaluated.
Insufficient Understanding of Long-Term Effects
Some effects on trial participants are still unknown, including atypical tumor responses (such as pseudo-progression) and long-term immune-related toxicities that are so specific to immuno-oncology trials, that they are not yet incorporated in trial designs.
Treatment of Underrepresented Patients
Patients with the following disqualifying factors are often removed from trial and data:
- Autoimmune disease
- Chronic viral infection
- Limited performance status
- Brain metastases
However, some cases show that these patients benefiting from emerging changes and are thus attempting to engage more of this subject field into the trial. Additionally, there is a large need to dive into these ‘disqualified’ groups, to understand what trial variables are incompatible with diagnoses, and how to accommodate these patients’ treatment needs.
Immunooncology Drugs: Are They on the Rise?
Research and development in immuno-oncology are rising, treatment therapies are growing and diversifying, and, of course, drugs to treat cancer patients are increasing. Drugs are continually being created to more effectively target the necessary areas in the body, and at an individual molecular level. There is also a great investigation in targeted vaccines that could be used in high-risk cancer mutation patients, to prevent cancer from growing into something much more dangerous.
As technology continues to propel medicine forward, it is important to deliver (always!) the most up-to-date medical experience to patients.
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