Immunotherapy in hematologic malignancies

  • R.R. Kansara Section of Medical Oncology/Hematology,Department of Internal MedicineUniversity of Manitoba
  • C. Speziali Section of Medical Oncology/Hematology,Department of Internal MedicineUniversity of Manitoba
Keywords: Immunotherapy, Hematology, Pembrolizumab, Nivolumab, Ipilimumab, BiTE therapy


The management of hematologic malignancies has traditionally relied on chemotherapy regimens, many of which are still in use today. However, with advancements in the knowledge of tumour pathophysiology, therapies are continually evolving. Monoclonal antibodies against specific targets on tumour cells are now widely used to treat hematologic malignancies, either in combination with chemotherapy or as single agents. Rituximab, a monoclonal antibody against the CD20 antigen, is a good example of successful monoclonal antibody therapy that has improved outcomes for patients with B cell non-Hodgkin lymphomas. Monoclonal antibodies are now being used against the immune checkpoints that function to inhibit T cell activation and subsequent tumour eradication by those cytotoxic T cells. Such therapies enhance T cell–mediated tumour eradication and are widely successful in treating patients with solid tumours such as malignant melanoma. Now, they are slowly finding their place in the management of hematologic neoplasms. Even though, currently, immune checkpoint inhibitors are used for relapsed or refractory hematologic neoplasms, trials are ongoing to evaluate their role in frontline treatment. Our review focuses on the current use of immunotherapies in various hematologic malignancies.

How to Cite
Kansara, R., & Speziali, C. (2019). Immunotherapy in hematologic malignancies. Current Oncology, 27(S2).