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Harnessing the immune system to treat cancer through inhibitors of CTLA4 and PD-L1 has revolutionized the landscape of cancer. Rational combination strategies aim to enhance the antitumor effects of immunotherapies, but require a deep understanding of the mechanistic underpinnings of the immune system and robust preclinical and clinical drug development strategies. We review the current approved immunotherapy combinations, before discussing promising combinatorial approaches in clinical trials and detailing innovative preclinical model systems being used to develop rational combinations. We also discuss the promise of high-order immunotherapy combinations, as well as novel biomarker and combinatorial trial strategies. SIGNIFICANCE: Although immune-checkpoint inhibitors are approved as dual checkpoint strategies, and in combination with cytotoxic chemotherapy and angiogenesis inhibitors for multiple cancers, patient benefit remains limited. Innovative approaches are required to guide the development of novel immunotherapy combinations, ranging from improvements in preclinical tumor model systems to biomarker-driven trial strategies.

Original publication




Journal article


Cancer Discov

Publication Date





1368 - 1397


Drug Development, Drug Therapy, Combination, Humans, Immune Checkpoint Inhibitors, Immunotherapy, Neoplasms