Biomarkers for glioma immunotherapy: the next generation.

The term “biomarker” historically refers to a single parameter, such as the expression level of a gene or a radiographic pattern, used to indicate a broader biological state. Molecular indicators have been applied to several aspects of cancer therapy: to describe the genotypic and phenotypic state of neoplastic tissue for prognosis, to predict susceptibility to anti-proliferative agents, to validate the presence of specific drug targets, and to evaluate responsiveness to therapy. For glioblastoma (GBM), immunohistochemical and radiographic biomarkers accessible to the clinical lab have informed traditional regimens, but while immunotherapies have emerged as potentially disruptive weapons against this diffusely infiltrating, heterogeneous tumor, biomarkers with strong predictive power have not been fully established. The cancer immunotherapy field, through the recently accelerated expansion of trials, is currently leveraging this wealth of clinical and biological data to define and revise the use of biomarkers for improving prognostic accuracy, personalization of therapy, and evaluation of responses across the wide variety of tumors. Technological advancements in DNA sequencing, cytometry, and microscopy have facilitated the exploration of more integrated, high-dimensional profiling of the disease system-incorporating both immune and tumor parameters-rather than single metrics, as biomarkers for therapeutic sensitivity. Here we discuss the utility of traditional GBM biomarkers in immunotherapy and how the impending transformation of the biomarker paradigm-from single markers to integrated profiles-may offer the key to bringing predictive, personalized immunotherapy to GBM patients.

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