Immunotherapy combination strategies (non-chemotherapy) in non-small cell lung cancer
Immune checkpoint inhibitors enhance the activation and antitumor activity of the immune system, resulting in durable response rates in a select group of patients. Cytotoxic T lymphocyte antigen 4 (CTLA4) inhibitors target the inhibitory interaction between CTLA4 and CD80 or CD86. Programmed death 1 (PD1) inhibitors target the interaction between PD1 receptors on T-cells and PD-ligand 1 (PD-L1) and PD-ligand 2, blocking the inhibitory signaling and resulting in activation of T-cell effector function. These therapeutic drugs were originally evaluated in patients with metastatic melanoma before expansion to all tumor types, including non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) with promising results. The PD1 inhibitors such as pembrolizumab have now received FDA approval in the first-line setting for patients with positive PD-L1 expression tumor types; however, only a portion of patients have shown objective and sustainable responses. To expand the number of patients with observed response to immunotherapeutic agents including patients with negative PD-L1 expression tumors, clinical trials are ongoing to assess the safety and efficacy of combination immune checkpoint inhibitors and combination immune checkpoint inhibitors with targeted therapy. Immune checkpoint inhibitors have been found to be a promising therapeutic drug class with sustainable response rates and a tolerable safety profile, and efforts continue to improve these drugs in patients with NSCLC.