Biological and Therapeutic Advances in the Pursuit of Effective Immunotherapy for Prostate Cancer

Anis A. Hamid; Atish D. Choudhury


Curr Opin Urol. 2020;30(1):30-35. 

In This Article

Abstract and Introduction


Purpose of review: The successful development of effective cancer immunotherapy, in particular immune checkpoint inhibitors, has changed the treatment paradigm of many tumor types. In light of the limited efficacy of checkpoint inhibitors demonstrated in recent clinical trials in refractory prostate cancer, this review highlights important recent and ongoing studies that are shaping the pursuit of effective immunotherapy for prostate cancer.

Recent findings: We review two overarching themes with respect to recent studies of prostate cancer immunotherapy: evolving therapeutic strategies and novel biological findings, including the landscape of predictive biomarkers of immunotherapy response.

Summary: Novel and combinatorial immunotherapy strategies are being implemented across the clinical spectrum of prostate cancer. Greater understanding of complex tumor-immune interactions and the determinants of therapy response in prostate cancer is an area of intense investigation, and will inform both translational and clinical immuno-oncology research in the field.


The implementation of immune checkpoint inhibitor therapy across solid tumors in recent years has been heralded by much enthusiasm given the promise of deep, durable therapy responses previously unseen in the treatment of advanced-stage malignancies. Although the therapy landscape of metastatic prostate cancer has changed considerably in the past decade – driven by success with novel agents and combinatorial approaches – enthusiasm for checkpoint inhibition (CPI) in prostate cancer has been tempered by limited efficacy demonstrated in clinical trials. Accordingly, attention has turned to better understanding the unique tumor-immune microenvironment of prostate cancer, its dynamics in conferring treatment resistance, and novel mechanisms that may be exploited alone or in combination with existing immune-targeting strategies. In parallel, there have been significant efforts to characterize molecular markers of immunotherapy response and create a new predictive taxonomy for clinical translation. Herein, we review key studies that have driven recent progress in immunotherapy and immune biomarker development in prostate cancer and further highlight important knowledge gaps and promising treatment approaches.