Immunotherapy earns its spot in the ranks of cancer therapy

Drew Pardoll, Charles Drake

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

105 Scopus citations


Since it became clear that all cancer cells express tumor-specific and tumor-selective antigens generated by genetic alterations and epigenetic dysregulation, the immunology community has embraced the possibility of designing therapies to induce targeted antitumor immune responses. The potential therapeutic specificity and efficacy of such treatments are obvious to anyone who studies the exquisite specificity and cytocidal potency of immune responses. However, the value assigned to a therapeutic modality by the oncology community at large does not depend on scientific principle; all that matters is how patients respond. The bar for the ultimate acceptance of a therapy requires more than anecdotal clinical responses; rather, the major modalities of cancer therapeutics, including surgery, chemotherapy, radiation therapy, and, more recently, drugs targeting oncogenes, have earned their place only after producing dramatic frequent clinical responses or demonstrating statistically significant survival benefits in large randomized phase 3 clinical trials, leading to FDA approval. Although tumor-targeted antibodies have certainly cleared this bar, immunotherapies aimed at harnessing antitumor cellular responses have not-until now.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)201-209
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Experimental Medicine
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 2012

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Immunology and Allergy
  • Immunology


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