Immunogenomics of Colorectal Tumors: Facts and Hypotheses on an Evolving Saga

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


Immunotherapy with immune checkpoint inhibitors is an approved treatment option for a subpopulation of patients with colorectal cancers that display microsatellite instability. However, not all individuals within this subgroup respond to immunotherapy, and molecular biomarkers for effective patient stratification are still lacking. In this opinion article, we provide an overview of the different biological parameters that contribute to rendering colorectal cancers with microsatellite instability potentially sensitive to immunotherapy. We critically discuss the reasons why such parameters have limited predictive value and the implications therein. We also consider that a more informed knowledge of response determinants in this tumor subtype could help understand the mechanisms of immunotherapy resistance in microsatellite stable tumors. We conclude that the dynamic nature of the interactions between cancer and immune cells complicates conventional biomarker development and argue that a new generation of adaptive metrics, borrowed from evolutionary genetics, may improve the effectiveness and reliability of clinical decision making.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)779-788
Number of pages10
JournalTrends in Cancer
Issue number12
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2019


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