At the ninth annual Symposium on Clinical Interventional Oncology, professor Daniel Sze (Stanford University, USA) noted in his speak that immunotherapy is a “huge opportunity” for interventional oncology. The immune system is the natural defense against cancer and plays a role in surveillance, recognition, attack and vigilance. Immunotherapy involves stimulating the cancer patient’s immune system so that it can robustly fight the disease. Professor Sze used the analogy of a military defense strategy to counter insurgencies to elaborate on the rationale behind immunotherapy: “Instead of sending in more US marines, teach the local militia to expel the insurgents,” he said alluding to how immunotherapy works.
Experts now believe that there could be a time when interventional radiologists no longer perform procedures to destroy tumor tissue alone. Ablating or embolizing can be used to provoke the patient's immune system to effectively destroy cancer cells. Other types of immunotherapies, such as cell-based therapy, involve introduction of new components into the immune system. These components are first engineered or manipulated outside the body and trained to recognize cancer, before they are reintroduced into the patient. For oncolytic immunotherapy, manipulated viruses are used to selectively infect cancer cells. The infected cells undergo lysis, release antigen, and the subsequent stimulation of the immune system promotes the attack of cancer throughout the body.
Interventional radiology must identify the unmet needs within immunotherapy, as many therapies are systemically toxic and some do not penetrate the tumor microenvironments the professor concluded. He also suggested that interventional radiology solutions should be devised and administered locoregionally, and that patients should be selected based on tumor genetics and the track changes in biochemistry.