Understanding the function and dysfunction of the immune system in lung cancer: the role of immune checkpoints

Niki Karachaliou, Maria Gonzalez Cao, Cristina Teixidó, Santiago Viteri, Daniela Morales-Espinosa, Mariacarmela Santarpia, Rafael Rosell


Survival rates for metastatic lung cancer, including non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) and small cell lung cancer(SCLC), are poor with 5-year survivals of less than 5%. The immune system has an intricate and complex relationshipwith tumorigenesis; a groundswell of research on the immune system is leading to greater understanding of how cancerprogresses and presenting new ways to halt disease progress. Due to the extraordinary power of the immune system—with its capacity for memory, exquisite specificity and central and universal role in human biology—immunotherapy hasthe potential to achieve complete, long-lasting remissions and cures, with few side effects for any cancer patient, regardlessof cancer type. As a result, a range of cancer therapies are under development that work by turning our own immunecells against tumors. However deeper understanding of the complexity of immunomodulation by tumors is key to thedevelopment of effective immunotherapies, especially in lung cancer.


Lung cancer; immunotherapy; immune checkpoint; program death-ligand 1 (PD-L1); program death-1 (PD-1)

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