Hope for cancer patients due to immunotherapy and the advent of new targeted therapies

Jean-François Baurain, Jean-Pascal Machiels, François Duhoux Published in the journal : February 2017 Category : Oncologie

Summary :

Major advances in medical oncology were observed in 2016. This article highlights some of these advances. Firstly, a new therapeutic class, the CDK4/6 inhibitors (palbociclib, ribociclib), was discovered, arousing major interest. When combined with hormonotherapy, these inhibitors were shown to increase overall survival of ER-positive metastatic breast cancer patients by several months. Secondly, PARP inhibitors (niraparib) that block one of the two DNA repair mechanisms were shown active in all relapsing ovarian cancer patients with a response to platinum-based chemotherapy. Finally, immunotherapy is now generally regarded as an essential therapeutic modality in the treatment of cancer, with shapes of some survival curves suggesting that some patients could be definitely cured. Ipilimumab, an anti-CTL-4 antibody, was shown able to increase the global survival of resected Stage III melanoma patients at high risk of relapse. The combination of anti-PD1 and CTLA-4 antibodies proved superior to the respective monotherapies in the treatment of metastatic melanoma. Anti-PD1 antibodies currently represent the standard of care in the treatment of metastatic head and neck cancers, kidney cancers, and lung cancers. The administration of these antibodies was associated with a very specific, autoimmune toxicity, which was at times severe or even fatal if not recognized and treated early. All these treatments are presently accessible at the King Albert II Cancer Institute.

Key words

Immunotherapy, PARP inhibitors, CDK 4/6 inhibitors, melanoma, ovarian cancer