Mapping the trends and current global landscape of immunotherapies

Immunotherapies being developed offer new ways to use living cells from the human immune system to target cancerous cells for therapeutic treatments. Examining numerous immunotherapy clinical trials over the past 20 years illustrates several trends in immunotherapy and gives researchers and businesses a better understanding of the current state and future directions that this field may progress.

What background and points are discussed?

The study by Dr Bonter and colleagues found a total of 1,579 clinical trials (CTs) examining the safety, tolerability and effectiveness of cellular immunotherapy treatments. Most of the trials examined (1,560 - 98.8%) were started between 1995 and 2015 and over those 20 years the number has steadily grown from fewer than 10 trials in 1995 to over 170 in 2015. Thirty-three different countries have reported cellular immunotherapy trials, with the United States responsible for over half of these (~54%), followed by China (~9.0%), Japan (~8.8%), Netherlands (~3.4%), Germany (~2.6%), and the United Kingdom (~2.5%). The dominance of the US has diminished since 2008 with growing numbers of studies from East Asia and Europe. From 1995 to 2015, the proportion of studies focused on treating solid cancerous tumours and cancers of the blood has remained relatively constant, roughly 50% and 25% respectively. Industry sponsorship of CTs has grown four-fold since 1999, with studies from East Asia most likely to have industry sponsors. However, the majority of CTs, particularly studies examining new disease targets, are publicly funded studies run by academic centres. The largest funder for CTs was the US National Institutes of Health (NIH). The authors also report on other details and trends that are beyond the scope of this summary, such as treatment methods, proteins that treatments target and the statistical preferences of industry sponsors towards CTs using different cell types.