Overcoming the limitations of cytokines to improve cancer therapy
Claudia Augusta Di Trani 1 , Assunta Cirella 1 , Leire Arrizabalaga 1 , Myriam Fernandez-Sendin 1 , Angela Bella 1 , Fernando Aranda 1 , Ignacio Melero 2 , Pedro Berraondo 3
Cytokines are pleiotropic soluble proteins used by immune cells to orchestrate a coordinated response against pathogens and malignancies.
In cancer immunotherapy, cytokine-based drugs can be developed potentiating pro-inflammatory cytokines or blocking immunosuppressive cytokines. However, the complexity of the mechanisms of action of cytokines requires the use of biotechnological strategies to minimize systemic toxicity, while potentiating the antitumor response.
Sequence mutagenesis, fusion proteins and gene therapy strategies are employed to enhance the half-life in circulation, target the desired bioactivity to the tumor microenvironment, and to optimize the therapeutic window of cytokines.
In this review, we provide an overview of the different strategies currently being pursued in pre-clinical and clinical studies to make the most of cytokines for cancer immunotherapy.