Immunotherapy has been called one of the most significant advances in cancer in decades. While this approach may work in some cancers, it is unclear if or how immunotherapy can be used in NETs.

The Neuroendocrine Tumor Research Foundation (NETRF) has been leading an effort to understand the potential of immunotherapy in NETs. And now we are beginning to see findings emerge. Researchers shared what they’ve learned at a recent NETRF research symposium. One study was published in a peer-reviewed journal days ago.

Three NETRF-sponsored studies, by principal investigators Tim Meyer, MD, PhD, Matthew Kulke, MD, and Daniel Halperin, MD, have been seeking to further understand the immune environment of NETs.

Dr. Tim Meyer and colleagues are trying to identify which immune system pathways stop the body from releasing “soldier” cells that can recognize and attack NET cells. “With the support of the NETRF, I have assembled a team of world-leading scientists and clinicians at UCL, London to focus on defining the immune landscape of NETs,” said Dr. Meyer.

Dr. Matthew Kulke and colleagues have been working on a laboratory model to establish the role of immunotherapies in treating small intestine NETs (SI-NETs). “A better understanding of the immune environment of NETs is vital to establish the role immune therapies will have in this setting,” said Dr. Kulke.

Dr. Daniel Halperin and colleagues have been analyzing the immune environment of advanced pancreatic NETs (pNETs), which they have classified, clinically and genomically, to look for patterns that may predict response. “Any findings can directly inform clinical trials of new drugs for our patients who need them. Our hope is that this work will permit us to move the right drugs into trials for the patients most likely to benefit as quickly as possible,” said Dr. Halperin.

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