Trial Watch: Immunostimulation with recombinant cytokines for cancer therapy.

February 15, 2018
Source: Oncoimmunology. 2018 Feb 15;7(6):e1433982. doi: 10.1080/2162402X.2018.1433982. eCollection 2018. Review.

Authors: E. García-Martínez, M. Smith, A. Buqué, F.Aranda, F.A. de la Peña, A. Ivars, M.S. Cánovas, M. A. V. Conesa, J. Fucikova, R. Špíšek, L. Zitvogel, G. Kroemer, L. Galluzzi

Cytokines regulate virtually aspects of innate and adaptive immunity, including the initiation, execution and extinction of tumor-targeting immune responses. Over the past three decades, the possibility of using recombinant cytokines as a means to elicit or boost clinically relevant anticancer immune responses has attracted considerable attention. However, only three cytokines have been approved so far by the US Food and Drug Administration and the European Medicines Agency for use in cancer patients, namely, recombinant interleukin (IL)-2 and two variants of recombinant interferon alpha 2 (IFN-α2a and IFN-α2b). Moreover, the use of these cytokines in the clinics is steadily decreasing, mostly as a consequence of: (1) the elevated pleiotropism of IL-2, IFN-α2a and IFN-α2b, resulting in multiple unwarranted effects; and (2) the development of highly effective immunostimulatory therapeutics, such as immune checkpoint blockers. Despite this and other obstacles, research in the field continues as alternative cytokines with restricted effects on specific cell populations are being evaluated. Here, we summarize research preclinical and clinical developments on the use of recombinant cytokines for immunostimulation in cancer patients.