APR 13, 2021 11:34 AM PDT

New efforts to predict which patients will suffer from side effects from immunotherapy

The findings from a study published in the Journal for ImmunoTherapy of Cancer give medical professionals a way to predict which patients will have serious or life-threatening side effects as a result of immunotherapy. The findings from Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) researchers will help clinicians decide which cancer patients should receive immunotherapy and which should not take the risk. 

"We found that younger age, melanoma, and kidney cancer were each predictive of the development of severe immunotherapy toxicities," comments co-senior author Yevgeniy R. Semenov, MD, an investigator in the Department of Dermatology at MGH. "Understanding the risk factors for predicting high-grade toxicities will help in appropriately selecting patients most likely to tolerate immune checkpoint inhibitor therapy. It will also help to identify higher risk patients who should be carefully monitored if they initiate this therapy."

The researchers add that additionally patients who received multiple immune checkpoint inhibitors instead of a single type also had more toxic immune reactions. Watch the video below to learn more about how these therapies work.

In conducting their investigation, the team analyzed data from 14,378 patients with cancer who received immune checkpoint inhibitors in the United States between 2011 and 2019. Of that population, 3.5% had serious side effects that required hospitalization and immunosuppression treatments. 

"This study provides the foundation for studying severe immunotherapy toxicities using a Big Data analytic framework, which will be necessary when understanding the impact of these life-saving medications across diverse populations," says Semenov. "Also, it is the first step in developing robust clinical risk prediction models to identify patients at highest risk for the development of life-threatening treatment complications."

Sources: Journal for ImmunoTherapy of Cancer, Science Daily

About the Author
  • Kathryn is a curious world-traveller interested in the intersection between nature, culture, history, and people. She has worked for environmental education non-profits and is a Spanish/English interpreter.
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