With 5 new indications approved for PD-1/PD-L1–targeting agents in 2016 alone, immunotherapy continues to revolutionize the treatment paradigms for a number of different cancers. Recognizing the impact that these agents have had over the past year, the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) named “Immunotherapy 2.0” as the Advance of the Year in its Clinical Cancer Advances 2017: ASCO’s Annual Report on Progress Against Cancer, which is published in the Journal of Clinical Oncology.
“In less than a decade, immunotherapy has gone from being considered a promising theoretical treatment to one that has become a standard of care that is helping extend or improve the lives of thousands of patients,” Daniel F. Hayes, M.D., F.A.C.P., F.A.S.C.O, the president of ASCO said in a statement.
Clinical Cancer Advances also highlights some other groundbreaking advances in the field of cancer, including precision medicine, liquid biopsies and new tools that help bridge the gaps between patients and their doctors.
The annual ASCO report, which was released on Capitol Hill, explains that federal research funding is a major driver in the fight against cancer. Now, in light of World Cancer Day, oncologists and researchers are reaching out to lawmakers about sustained annual increases for the developments that will help fight the disease. Congress recently approved increases for the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and National Cancer Institute (NCI) for 2017, though sustained increases are imperative to keep up with inflation and ensure that progress continues to be made. Also, the NIH still has less purchasing power than it did ten years ago. ASCO is hoping that the new Congress and Trump Administration will change this and provide at least $34.1 billion for the NIH in the fiscal year of 2017.
“Today, increasing knowledge about both cancer and immunology is leading to more and smarter use of treatments that activate a patient’s own immune system. Federal funding has made these life-saving advances possible and remains essential to increasing the pace of discovery and progress,” Hayes said.
Immune checkpoint inhibitors, which have been approved in 15 different uses since 2011, gave more treatment options for patients with lung, kidney, bladder and head and neck cancers. But progress will not stop there. “Immunotherapy 2.0” also includes the immunotherapy discoveries to come, and future research including identifying which patients are the best candidates for this type of therapy, discovering and overcoming mechanisms resistance and reducing immune-related adverse events.
“To conquer cancer, we must conduct research across the cancer care continuum, from screening to new treatments and strategies that help ease treatment side effects,” Harold J. Burstein, M.D., Ph.D., F.A.S.C.O., co-executive editor of Clinical Cancer Advances said in a statement. “With World Cancer Day around the corner, I’m excited by the advances we’ve made in just this past year as they will help many patients around the world live longer, healthier lives.”