Trial Watch—Small molecules targeting the immunological tumor microenvironment for cancer therapy
Progressing malignancies establish robust immunosuppressive networks that operate both systemically and locally. In particular, as tumors escape immunosurveillance, they recruit increasing amounts of myeloid and lymphoid cells that exert pronounced immunosuppressive effects. These cells not only prevent the natural recognition of growing neoplasms by the immune system, but also inhibit anticancer immune responses elicited by chemo-, radio- and immuno therapeutic interventions. Throughout the past decade, multiple strategies have been devised to counteract the accumulation or activation of tumor-infiltrating immunosuppressive cells for therapeutic purposes. Here, we review recent preclinical and clinical advances on the use of small molecules that target the immunological tumor microenvironment for cancer therapy. These agents include inhibitors of indoleamine 2,3-dioxigenase 1 (IDO1), prostaglandin E2, and specific cytokine receptors, as well as modulators of intratumoral purinergic signaling and arginine metabolism.