Recent advances and challenges in cancer immunotherapies for patients with autoimmune diseases

Despite the recent breakthrough in cancer immunotherapies, such as immune checkpoint inhibitors, a large proportion of patients have shown limited clinical benefits with adverse immune-related side effects. Furthermore, cancer patients with active autoimmune disorders receiving systemic immunosuppressive drugs have been excluded from clinical trials testing the safety and efficacy of immune checkpoint inhibitors to prevent the risk of developing severe autoimmune exacerbation. These represent unmet medical challenges, which need to be overcome to improve quality of life and maximize the therapeutic efficacy of current treatment protocols in all cancer patients, including those with severe autoimmune diseases.

Immune checkpoints play a crucial role in regulating the activation of immune responses and maintaining self-tolerance to prevent the development of inflammatory autoimmune diseases. To date, the majority of studies have focused on the role of immune checkpoints in cancers, while limited data is available in the context of inflammatory autoimmune diseases. This urges the need for further studies to define the role of immune checkpoints in autoimmune and inflammatory diseases, and identify candidate therapeutic approaches to modulate their functions, maximize the clinical benefit of cancer patients with autoimmune diseases, ensure effective cancer immunotherapy, and reduce the likelihood of developing adverse-immune related effects.

This Research Topic welcomes Original Research and Review Articles focusing on, but not limited to, the following subtopics:
• Association between immune checkpoint inhibitor therapy in cancer and autoimmunity.
• Molecular and cellular response to immune checkpoint inhibitors in cancer patients with autoimmune diseases receiving systemic immunosuppressive drugs.
• Mechanistic and profiling studies to evaluate the response of cancer patients with refractory inflammatory autoimmune diseases to various immunotherapeutic/combination therapy strategies aiming to maximize clinical benefits.
• Potential mechanisms by which immune checkpoints modulate immune cell function to understand how they might shape the design of more effective therapeutic agents in the future.
• Exogenous or endogenous factors ranging from genetic, epigenetic, metabolic, and microbiome changes, which could influence the response of cancer patients with autoimmune disorders to cancer immunotherapies.
• Computational modeling and preclinical models to predict the response of cancer patients to multiple inhibitors targeting various immune checkpoints and the impact on the prognosis of autoimmune diseases.
• Clinical trials assessing the efficacy and safety profiles in cancer patients with autoimmune diseases receiving both immunosuppressive drugs and immune checkpoint inhibitors.
• Potential combination cancer immunotherapies which can be applied to complement therapy in cancer patients with autoimmune diseases.
• Failed targets, lessons learned, and future perspectives in designing therapeutic strategies.

Note: Manuscripts consisting solely of bioinformatics or computational analysis of public genomic or transcriptomic databases which are not accompanied by validation (clinical cohort or biological validation in vitro or in vivo) are out of scope for this section and will not be accepted as part of this Research Topic.

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Posted on

August 30, 2021