Journal List > Immune Netw > v.20(1) > 1142982

Immune Netw. 2020 Feb;20(1):e1. English.
Published online Feb 20, 2020.
Copyright © 2020. The Korean Association of Immunologists
Coalition Forces of Immunologists and Oncologists for Defeating Cancer
Eui-Cheol Shin, Deputy Editor, Immune Network
Laboratory of Immunology and Infectious Diseases, Graduate School of Medical Science and Engineering, Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology (KAIST), Daejeon 34141, Korea.

Correspondence to Eui-Cheol Shin. Laboratory of Immunology and Infectious Diseases, Graduate School of Medical Science and Engineering, Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology (KAIST), 291 Daehak-ro, Yuseong-gu, Daejeon 34141, Korea. Email:
Received Feb 17, 2020; Accepted Feb 18, 2020.

This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial License ( which permits unrestricted non-commercial use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

There has been a long journey in the effort to harness the immune system for the treatment of cancer since Coley's toxin was first used to treat cancer 120 years ago. However, almost all efforts failed to improve patient outcomes. Meanwhile, the concept of cancer immunosurveillance and immunoediting has been established (1), and T cells have been considered major players in the immune responses to cancer. Moreover, immunologists have found that tumor antigen-specific T cells are largely ‘exhausted’ in both murine and human tumors (2).

During immune responses, Ag-specific T cells are regulated by various mechanisms, including inhibitory receptors, to avoid excessive and persistent immune responses (3). These immune checkpoints suppress T-cell responses, particularly in cancer patients, leading to T-cell exhaustion. CTLA-4 and PD-1 are the most well-known immune checkpoint inhibitory receptors and have been targeted for drug development. As a result, anti-CTLA-4 and anti-PD-1/PD-L1 blocking antibodies are now successfully used for cancer treatment and known as immune checkpoint inhibitors (ICIs) (4).

The current ICIs have some limitations. First, ICIs fail to control tumors in a significant proportion of cancer patients. Moreover, tumor growth becomes accelerated after ICI treatment in some patients. This is known as hyperprogressive disease (HPD) (5, 6). In addition, certain patients suffer from immune-related adverse events (irAEs) following ICI treatment (7). However, we do not yet know the mechanisms underlying a non-response, HPD, and irAEs following ICI treatment, hampering mechanism-driven development of new immuno-oncological agents and rationale-based patient management.

The recent explosive growth of ‘immuno-oncology’ has been enabled by successful translational research from bench-side basic immunology to bedside clinics. Now, it is time to raise questions from the bedside and answer them with basic immunology. These findings will then be translated to the clinic, creating a virtuous cycle to boost the growth of immuno-oncology. Coalition forces of immunologists and oncologists are necessary to defeat cancer.

In the current issue of Immune Network, we publish 10 review articles in the field of tumor immunology and immuno-oncology. First, T-cell exhaustion and inhibitory receptors (8) and co-stimulatory receptors (9) are discussed. The roles of regulatory T cells (10), γδ T cells (11), IL-17-producing cells (12), and NANOG signaling (13) in tumor immunity are also described. From the translational and clinical aspect, peripheral blood biomarkers (14) and irAE-related issues (15) are comprehensively reviewed. The recent progress in immunotherapy for non-small cell lung cancer (16) and hepatocellular carcinoma (17) are discussed.


Conflict of Interest:The author declares no potential conflicts of interest.

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8. Im SJ, Ha SJ. Re-defining T-cell exhaustion: subset, function, and regulation. Immune Netw 2020;20:e2
9. Jeong S, Park SH. Co-Stimulatory receptors in cancers and their implications for cancer immunotherapy. Immune Netw 2020;20:e3
10. Kim JH, Kim BS, Lee SK. Regulatory T cells in tumor microenvironment and approach for anticancer immunotherapy. Immune Netw 2020;20:e4
11. Lee HW, Chung YS, Kim TJ. Heterogeneity of human γδ T cells and their role in cancer immunity. Immune Netw 2020;20:e5
12. Kuen DS, Kim BS, Chung Y. IL-17-producing cells in tumor immunity: friends or foes? Immune Netw 2020;20:e6
13. Oh SJ, Lee J, Kim Y, Song KH, Cho E, Kim M, Jung H, Kim TW. Far beyond cancer immunotherapy: reversion of multi-malignant phenotypes of immunotherapeutic-resistant cancer by targeting the NANOG signaling axis. Immune Netw 2020;20:e7
14. Kim KH, Kim CG, Shin EC. Peripheral blood immune cell-based biomarkers in anti-PD-1/PD-L1 therapy. Immune Netw 2020;20:e8
15. Choi J, Lee SY. Clinical characteristics and treatment of immune-related adverse events of immune checkpoint inhibitors. Immune Netw 2020;20:e9
16. Lim SM, Hong MH, Kim HR. Immunotherapy for non-small cell lung cancer: current landscape and future perspectives. Immune Netw 2020;20:e10
17. Lee HW, Cho KJ, Park JY. Current status and future direction of immunotherapy in hepatocellular carcinoma: what do the data suggest? Immune Netw 2020;20:e11