Funda Meric-Bernstam, MD, co-chair of the 2021 Cholangiocarcinoma Foundation Annual Conference, gives her insight on immunotherapies in cholangiocarcinoma.
Funda Meric-Bernstam, MD, chair of the Department of Investigational Cancer Therapeutics and medical director of the Institute for Personalized Cancer Therapy at The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, and co-chair of the 2021 Cholangiocarcinoma Foundation Annual Conference, gives her insight on immunotherapies in cholangiocarcinoma.
One session focuses on immuno-oncology, a growing class of therapies for cholangiocarcinoma. What are some recent advances you think may come up in this discussion?
We're so excited about immunotherapy in general, and of course immunotherapy has really revolutionized the care of multiple diseases. These are diseases of what we call "hot" diseases, where we think that the tumor is more immunogenic, which means the tumor has features that the body is likely to perceive as not normal and more likely to mount an immune response to it with just a little bit of help. Chelangiocarcinoma is not one of those diseases where we think is readily going to be benefit from immunotherapy across the board in all patients. Thus, we're really trying to figure out how we identify the patients that would benefit from just checkpoint inhibitors. That is some patients, but all in all, not most patients. But also, there's many different combination therapies in development, and which one of those combination therapies are likely to be fruitful? And how do we determine that? What is the path forward, and what are the logical combinations should we be exploring, and what are the new technologies being developed in the space? [We're] looking at different cellular therapy strategies, looking at novel bispecific strategies, looking at strategies such as vaccines. I think we're going to be covering a variety of different perspectives, so again, that should be very interesting session.