Immuno-oncology (I-O) plays an increasingly important part in cancer treatment, utilizing the body’s own immune system to fight the disease. Although not a new concept, I-O has progressed considerably in the last 10-15 years with approvals for numerous I-O therapies including vaccines, cytokines, tumor-directed monoclonal antibodies, and immune checkpoint inhibitors.
The goal of I-O therapy is to restore the ability of the immune system to eliminate cancer cells by either activating the immune system directly (active immunotherapies) or by inhibiting mechanisms of suppression by tumors (passive immunotherapies). By harnessing the body’s own immune system to elicit an immune response that fights cancer, active immunotherapies such as therapeutic cancer vaccines, cytokines, and mediators of T-cell activation can strengthen the anti-tumor response. While passive immunotherapies such as tumor-directed monoclonal antibodies (mAbs) and cell therapies act on the tumor, they do not require the patient’s own immune system to initiate a response. ICON continues to be immersed in the development of both passive and active immunotherapy approaches, allowing sponsors to overcome the challenges of I-O.