Oncology treatments and immunotherapy

A new therapy for treating cancer

Immunotherapy and Checkpoint Inhibitors are Becoming a Paradigm in Treating Cancer

Until a decade ago, immunotherapy wasn’t widely regarded as a viable treatment for cancers. Doctors understood the role of the body’s immune system in relation to cancer development and therapy, but not how it could be targeted in frontline oncology treatment.

Dr. Ari VanderWalde, Director of Clinical Research at West Cancer Center (WCC), and oncology scientific lead at George Clinical says “Immunotherapy wasn’t a paradigm in treating cancer until very recently.”

The immune systems protect the body from disease by recognizing and removing threats - including viruses, bacteria or parasites - while maintaining the body’s own healthy tissue. Generally, our immune system is efficient at identifying threats. But because cancers are shaped by the microenvironment of their host, tumors are able to grow by evading the immune system. They do this via ‘checkpoint inhibitors’ that keep the immune system from activating and carrying out its protective role.

“Cancer is very good at hiding in plain sight,” says Dr. VanderWalde. “Cancer looks like you - the host. So the key question is how can we make tumors and cancer easier for our immune system to find and destroy?”

This is why immunotherapy is such a hot topic in oncology research, with a number of research organizations and global pharmaceutical companies entering the immune therapy sphere. The goal of immunotherapy is to ‘liberate’ the immune system’s underlying anti-cancer immune responses, with potential implications for a number of cancer types, and for use in combination with more established treatments like chemotherapy or radiotherapy. For some cancers, like non-small cell lung cancer, immunotherapy is already is a frontline treatment, sometimes offered without chemotherapy.

“Clinical oncologists are still learning about the potential of immunotherapy,” says Dr. VanderWalde. “But it has the potential to overcome decades of what has been the standard approach to treating cancer.”

George Clinical is a leading independent Asia-Pacific based clinical research organization (CRO) with global capabilities differentiated by scientific leadership, innovation, and extensive investigator networks. With staff operating in 15 countries, George Clinical provides the full range of clinical trial services to biopharmaceutical, medical device, and diagnostic customers, for all trial phases, registration, and post-marketing trials. For their Oncology offerings, George Clinical works closely with scientific leaders from West Cancer Center, a US-based leader in care and research, and combines this scientific and clinical leadership with expert trial delivery capability to create a distinctive world-class service.