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Immune checkpoint targeting in cancer therapy: toward combination strategies with curative potential.


Research in two fronts has enabled the development of therapies that provide significant benefit to cancer patients. One area stems from a detailed knowledge of mutations that activate or inactivate signaling pathways that drive cancer development. This work triggered the development of targeted therapies that lead to clinical responses in the majority of patients bearing the targeted mutation, although responses are often of limited duration. In the second front are the advances in molecular immunology that unveiled the complexity of the mechanisms regulating cellular immune responses. These developments led to the successful targeting of immune checkpoints to unleash anti-tumor T cell responses, resulting in durable long-lasting responses but only in a fraction of patients. In this Review, we discuss the evolution of research in these two areas and propose that intercrossing them and increasing funding to guide research of combination of agents represent a path forward for the development of curative therapies for the majority of cancer patients.