On the Horizon: Targeting Next-Generation Immune Checkpoints for Cancer Treatment

Grazia R. Tundo, Diego Sbardella, Pedro M. Lacal, Grazia Graziani, Stefano Marini

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


Background: Immune checkpoints are critical regulatory pathways of the immune system which finely tune the response to biological threats. Among them, the CD-28/CTLA-4 and PD-1/PD-L1 axes play a key role in tumour immune escape and are well-established targets of cancer immunotherapy. Summary: The clinical experience accumulated to date provides unequivocal evidence that anti-CTLA-4, PD-1, or PD-L1 monoclonal antibodies, used as monotherapy or in combination regimes, are effective in a variety of advanced/metastatic types of cancer, with improved clinical outcomes compared to conventional chemotherapy. However, the therapeutic success is currently restricted to a limited subset of patients and reliable predictive biomarkers are still lacking. Key Message: The identification and characterization of additional co-inhibitory pathways as novel pharmacological targets to improve the clinical response in refractory patients has led to the development of different immune checkpoint inhibitors, the activities of which are currently under investigation. In this review, we discuss recent literature data concerning the mechanisms of action of next-generation monoclonal antibodies targeting LAG-3, TIM-3, and TIGIT co-inhibitory molecules that are being explored in clinical trials, as single agents or in combination with other immune-stimulating agents.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)62-80
Number of pages19
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Oct 1 2019


  • Atezolizumab
  • Metastatic melanoma
  • Nivolumab
  • Non-small cell lung cancer
  • Pembrolizumab

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology
  • Pharmacology
  • Drug Discovery
  • Pharmacology (medical)
  • Infectious Diseases


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