Journal of Translational Research

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Mini Review - Journal of Translational Research (2023) Volume 7, Issue 4

The Role of Immune Checkpoints in Onco-Immunology

Loïc Verlin *

Département d'Innovations Thérapeutiques et Essais Précoces (DITEP), Gustave Roussy Cancer Campus, 114 rue Edouard Vaillant, 94800, Villejuif, France

*Corresponding Author:
Loïc Verlin
> Département d'Innovations Thérapeutiques et Essais Précoces (DITEP)
Gustave Roussy Cancer Campus, 114 rue Edouard Vaillant
Villejuif, France

Received: 25-Jul -2023, Manuscript No. AATR-23-111854; Editor assigned: 26- Jul -2023, PreQC No. AATR-23-111854 (PQ); Reviewed: 09- Aug-2023, QC No. AATR-23-111854; Revised: 11- Aug -2023, Manuscript No. AATR-23-111854 (R); Published: 18- Aug -2023, DOI: 10.35841/aatr-7.4.151

Citation: Verlin L. The Role of Immune Checkpoints in Onco-Immunology. 2023;7(4):151

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Cancer has long been a formidable adversary in the realm of medicine, presenting a complex and ever-evolving challenge. Recent breakthroughs in immunology have provided new avenues for cancer treatment, and one of the most promising frontiers is the field of onco-immunology. At the heart of this field lies the concept of immune checkpoints – a key mechanism that cancer cells exploit to evade the immune system. Understanding the role of immune checkpoints in onco-immunology is crucial for developing innovative therapies that harness the power of the immune system to combat cancer. The immune system plays a pivotal role in identifying and eliminating aberrant cells, including cancer cells. T cells, a type of white blood cell, are central to this defense mechanism. These cells possess receptors that allow them to recognize specific antigens displayed on the surface of cells. When T cells encounter cells displaying foreign or abnormal antigens, they are activated to destroy these cells [1].

To prevent excessive immune responses and collateral damage to healthy tissues, the immune system has evolved intricate regulatory mechanisms. Immune checkpoints are one such mechanism. These checkpoints are essentially molecules on the surface of immune cells that either stimulate or inhibit the immune response. They act as gatekeepers, ensuring that immune responses are appropriately modulated. Cancer cells exploit immune checkpoints to evade detection and destruction by the immune system. They often overexpress certain checkpoint molecules, such as PD-1 (programmed cell death protein 1) and CTLA-4 (cytotoxic T lymphocyte-associated protein 4). When these checkpoint molecules bind to their corresponding ligands on immune cells, they effectively put the brakes on the immune response, preventing T cells from attacking cancer cells. This phenomenon is known as immune checkpoint inhibition [2].

The discovery of immune checkpoint evasion by cancer cells has led to a groundbreaking therapeutic approach known as immune checkpoint blockade. This strategy involves using antibodies that target and block checkpoint molecules, thereby releasing the brakes on the immune response and allowing T cells to recognize and attack cancer cells. One of the most notable success stories in this realm is the development of immune checkpoint inhibitors like pembrolizumab (Keytruda) and nivolumab (Opdivo). These drugs target the PD-1 checkpoint and have shown remarkable efficacy in various cancer types. Clinical trials have demonstrated prolonged survival and even complete remission in some patients who had previously exhausted conventional treatment options [3].

While immune checkpoint blockade has transformed cancer treatment, challenges remain. Not all patients respond to these therapies, and resistance mechanisms can develop over time. Researchers are delving into the complexities of these resistance mechanisms to enhance the effectiveness of immune checkpoint inhibitors. Moreover, the success of immune checkpoint inhibitors in certain cancer types has sparked interest in exploring their potential in combination with other treatments, such as chemotherapy, targeted therapies, and radiation. Combining therapies can enhance the immune system's response and improve overall treatment outcomes [4].

While PD-1 and CTLA-4 inhibitors have been game-changers, scientists are actively investigating other checkpoint molecules and their ligands. For instance, antibodies targeting TIM-3, LAG-3, and TIGIT are being explored in clinical trials. These efforts reflect a deepening understanding of the intricate network of immune checkpoints and their interactions. As onco-immunology progresses, the importance of biomarkers cannot be overstated. Biomarkers help identify patients who are most likely to respond to immune checkpoint blockade, guiding treatment decisions and optimizing patient outcomes. PD-L1 expression, tumor mutational burden, and the presence of specific immune cell types within the tumor microenvironment are among the biomarkers being investigated [5].


The emergence of immune checkpoint inhibitors has ushered in a new era of cancer treatment, capitalizing on the body's own immune defenses to combat this complex disease. The role of immune checkpoints in onco-immunology highlights the delicate balance between immune activation and regulation. As research continues, scientists are uncovering novel checkpoint molecules, deciphering resistance mechanisms, and refining combination therapies. Ultimately, the ongoing exploration of immune checkpoints holds immense promise for transforming cancer from an often-fatal diagnosis to a manageable condition, offering renewed hope to patients and their families.


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