Trial watch: Chemotherapy with immunogenic cell death inducers
Accumulating evidence suggests that the clinical efficacy of selected anticancer drugs, including conventional chemotherapeutics as well as targeted anticancer agents, originates (at least in part) from their ability to elicit a novel or reinstate a pre-existing tumor-specific immune response. One of the mechanisms whereby chemotherapy can stimulate the immune system to recognize and destroy malignant cells is commonly known as immunogenic cell death (ICD). Cancer cells succumbing to ICD are de facto converted into an anticancer vaccine and as such elicit an adaptive immune response. Several common chemotherapeutics share the ability of triggering ICD, as demonstrated in vaccination experiments relying on immunocompetent mice and syngeneic cancer cells. A large number of ongoing clinical trials involve such ICD inducers, often (but not always) as they are part of the gold standard therapeutic approach against specific neoplasms. In this Trial Watch, we summarize the latest advances on the use of cyclophosphamide, doxorubicin, epirubicin, oxaliplatin, and mitoxantrone in cancer patients, discussing high-impact studies that have been published during the last 13 months as well as clinical trials that have been initiated in the same period to assess the antineoplastic profile of these immunogenic drugs as off-label therapeutic interventions.