Immune Netw.  2017 Dec;17(6):378-391. 10.4110/in.2017.17.6.378.

Immunotherapy for Non-small-cell Lung Cancer: Current Status and Future Obstacles

  • 1Arthur G. James Cancer Hospital Comprehensive Cancer Center, The Ohio State University, Columbus, OH 43210, USA.


Lung cancer is one of the leading causes of death worldwide. There are 2 major subtypes of lung cancer, non-small-cell lung cancer (NSCLC) and small-cell lung cancer (SCLC). Studies show that NSCLC is the more prevalent type of lung cancer that accounts for approximately 80%-85% of cases. Although, various treatment methods, such as chemotherapy, surgery, and radiation therapy have been used to treat lung cancer patients, there is an emergent need to develop more effective approaches to deal with advanced stages of tumors. Recently, immunotherapy has emerged as a new approach to combat with such tumors. The development and success of programmed cell death 1 (PD-1)/program death-ligand 1 (PD-L1) inhibitors and cytotoxic T-lymphocyte antigen 4 (CTLA-4) blockades in treating metastatic cancers opens a new pavement for the future research. The current mini review discusses the significance of immune checkpoint inhibitors in promoting the death of tumor cells. Additionally, this review also addresses the importance of tumor-specific antigens (neoantigens) in the development of cancer vaccines and major challenges associated with this therapy. Immunotherapy can be a promising approach to treat NSCLC because it stimulates host's own immune system to recognize cancer cells. Therefore, future research should focus on the development of new methodologies to identify novel checkpoint inhibitors and potential neoantigens.


Lung cancer; Immunotherapy; Immune checkpoint blockade; Neoantigen-specific vaccines; NSCLC
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