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Immuno-oncology (I-O) focuses on mobilizing a patient’s own immune cells to recognize and eliminate cancer cells. I-O research aims to activate an immune response at various points along the immune cycle.1,2,3,4


  • Relies on the immune response and the immunologic memory.5
    • The immunologic memory is a distinct characteristic of the immune system. It allows our immune systems to quickly and specifically recognize an antigen that our bodies have previously encountered.5
  • There are two types of immune responses, the innate and the adaptive.
    • The innate response is an antigen-independent response that is immediate and has no immunologic memory.3,4
    • The adaptive response is an antigen-dependent and antigen-specific response with the capacity for immunologic memory.3,4


Why it matters...

  • Research in cancer immunotherapy has increased our understanding of the potential to harness the immune system to attack cancer cells.6
  • Continuing to research combination I-O therapies may address the needs of future patients with cancer.7

Learn more about immuno-oncology:

Things that make you go huh?

Host Brett Hellman, former soap opera producer and current AbbVie employee, gets schooled on how our immune systems can be used to help fight cancer.

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Immunotherapy: A conversation with Steve Davidsen and Diane Hollenbaugh

As immunotherapies become a new and promising way to target cancer we examine what we know so far.

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[1] Finn OJ. Immuno-oncology: understanding the function and dysfunction of the immune system in cancer. Ann Oncol. 2012;23(suppl 8):viii6-viii9.
[2] Kim JM, Chen DS. Immune escape to PD-L1/PD-1 blockade: seven steps to success (or failure). Ann Oncol. 2016;27(8):1492-1504.
[3] Chen DS, Mellman I. Oncology meets immunology: the cancer-immunity cycle. Immunity. 2013;39(1):1-10.
[4] Warrington R, Watson W, Kim HL, Antonetti FR. An introduction to immunology and immunopathology. Allergy Asthma Clin Immunol. 2011;7 Suppl 1:S1.
[5] Zanetti, Maurizio(Feb 2013) Immunological Memory. In: eLS. John Wiley & Sons Ltd, Chichester.  
[6] Webb ES, Liu P, et al. Immune checkpoint inhibitors in cancer therapy. Journal of Biomedical Research. 2018 32(5): 317-326.
[7] Mellman I, Coukos G, Dranoff G. Cancer immunotherapy comes of age. Nature. 2011;480(7378):480-489.