Recently, a firmer understanding of tumor immunology and tumor escape mechanisms has led to the development of immune checkpoint inhibitors, antibodies against programmed death-1 (PD-1) and its ligand (PD-L1). Nivolumab, pembrolizumab, and atezolizumab have dramatically altered the treatment paradigm in non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) and have each demonstrated improvements in outcomes and quality of life when compared to chemotherapy. Enrichment strategies to better select those patients more likely to respond have identified PD-L1 staining by immunohistochemistry (IHC) to be a predictive biomarker in both treatment naïve and refractory patients. Unfortunately, many challenges exist with this strategy and underscore the need for further exploration for more reliable biomarkers. Multiple tissue and plasma-based enrichment strategies have been identified in the hope of identifying patients more likely to benefit from checkpoint inhibitors. These include tumor mutational load; the "inflamed phenotype" including tumor infiltrating lymphocytes (TILS) and immunoscore; T-cell receptor clonality; gene signatures, and several plasma biomarkers. Several studies have revealed many of these biomarkers to be reliable predictors of response to immune checkpoint inhibitors across multiple tumor types. Given the small nature of these studies, additional prospective studies are warranted to formalize and validate each of these enrichment strategies.
- Non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC)
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