Advances and new frontiers for immunotherapy in colorectal cancer: Setting the stage for neoadjuvant success?

Nuttavut Sumransub, Kornpong Vantanasiri, Ajay Prakash, Emil Lou

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

25 Scopus citations


Immunotherapy in the metastatic setting has drastically altered the landscape of treatment for various types of malignancy, including colorectal cancer. The category of immune checkpoint inhibitors has especially emerged as a class of therapy predicated on a more comprehensive understanding of immune cell-cancer cell regulation and evolution of the tumor microenvironment over time. Strategies including adoptive cellular therapies, tumor vaccines, and antibodies have also demonstrated the ability to enhance antitumor immunity. In this article, we provide a comprehensive review of the current landscape of immunotherapeutic strategies in colorectal cancer and provide insight into how these strategies may evolve in the next decade and be adapted to more localized forms of cancers of the colon and rectum. We provide particular focus on various combination approaches under investigation for reversing cancer-induced immunosuppression, especially in mismatch repair-proficient/microsatellite-stable colorectal tumors. Finally, we summarize current understanding on a recently identified integral factor in local immune regulation, the colonic microbiome. The aim of this article is to identify current challenges and barriers to improvement and to specify opportunities for applying knowledge in the immunotherapy sphere to rational design of clinical trials intended to improve survival and related outcomes in patients treated in the neoadjuvant setting.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1-12
Number of pages12
JournalMolecular Therapy Oncolytics
StatePublished - Sep 24 2021

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
E.L. reports research grants from the American Association for Cancer Research (AACR-Novocure Tumor-Treating Fields Research Award); honorarium and travel expenses for a research talk at GlaxoSmithKline in 2016; honoraria and travel expenses for lab-based research talks; equipment for laboratory-based research, Novocure, LLC, 2018−present; honorarium for a panel discussion organized by Antidote Education for a continuing medical education (CME) module on diagnostics and treatment of HER2 + gastric and colorectal cancers, funded by Daiichi-Sankyo, 2021 (honorarium donated to lab); consultant, Nomocan Pharmaceuticals (unpaid); Scientific Advisory Board Member, Minnetronix, LLC, 2018−present (unpaid); consultant and speaker honorarium, Boston Scientific US, 2019; institutional principal investigator for clinical trials sponsored by Celgene, Novocure, Intima Biosciences, and the National Cancer Institute; and University of Minnesota membership in the Caris Life Sciences Precision Oncology Alliance (unpaid). The other authors declare that they have no competing interests.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021 The Author(s)


  • cellular therapy
  • colon cancer
  • colorectal cancer
  • immunotherapy
  • neoadjuvant
  • rectal cancer
  • solid tumor therapy


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