Researchers Identify Biomarkers to Predict Patient Response to Immunotherapy Treatment

Two medical professionals in a medical setting looking at a paper.

Melanoma, a type of skin cancer, is often curable when detected and treated in its early stages. However, the disease can rapidly spread to other organs in the body and become deadly. According to the American Cancer Society, more than 7,600 people die of the disease each year in the United States.

Thankfully, immune checkpoint inhibitors (ICI), a type of immunotherapy, have transformed the treatment of certain cancers, including melanoma, and improved patient care. But despite the availability of this immunotherapy, doctors have been unable to predict who will benefit from ICI and who will not.

Now, a team of Wake Forest University School of Medicine researchers, led by David R. Soto-Pantoja, PhD, associate professor of surgery and cancer biology, has discovered blood biomarkers that can potentially predict patient response. Results from the study were published online in Clinical Cancer Research, a journal of the American Association for Cancer Research.

“When immunotherapy works, it can be very successful and improve overall survival. About 20% to 40% of patients will respond,” Soto-Pantoja said. “But predictive biomarkers are urgently needed to guide treatment decisions and to develop new approaches to therapeutic resistance.”