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Monitoring of the immune dysfunction in cancer patients

Santegoets, S.J.A.M., Welters, M.J.P. and van der Burg, S.H.

Immunotherapy shows promising clinical results in patients with different types of cancer, but its full potential is not reached due to immune dysfunction as a result of several suppressive mechanisms that play a role in cancer development and progression. Monitoring of immune dysfunction is a prerequisite for the development of strategies aiming to alleviate cancer-induced immune suppression. At this point, the level at which immune dysfunction occurs has to be established, the underlying mechanism(s) need to be known, as well as the techniques to assess this. While it is relatively easy to measure general signs of immune suppression, it turns out that accurate monitoring of the frequency and function of immune-suppressive cells is still difficult. A lack of truly specific markers, the phenotypic complexity among suppressive cells of the same lineage, but potentially with different functions and functional assays that may not cover every mechanistic aspect of immune suppression are among the reasons complicating proper assessments. Technical innovations in flow and mass cytometry will allow for more complete sets of markers to precisely determine phenotype and associated function. There is, however, a clear need for functional assays that recapitulate more of the mechanisms employed to suppress the immune system.

Citation

Santegoets, S.J.A.M., Welters, M.J.P. and van der Burg, S.H. "Monitoring of the immune dysfunction in cancer patients" Vaccines (Basel) (2016): 29