Targeting T cell activation in immuno-oncology
The years since 2009 have seen tremendous progress in unlocking the curative potential of the immune system for the treatment of cancer. Much of that revolution in immuno-oncology has been fueled by the clinical success of immune checkpoint inhibitors, particularly those targeting the PD-1 axis. Unfortunately, many patients still fail to benefit from checkpoint blockade or other immunotherapies. An inability to fully activate antitumour T cells contributes in part to the failure of those therapies. Here, we review the basic biology of T cell activation, with particular emphasis on the essential role of the dendritic cell and the innate immune system in T cell activation. The current understanding of the multiple factors that govern T cell activation and how they impinge on tumour immunotherapy are also discussed. Lastly, treatment strategies to potentially overcome barriers to T cell activation and to enhance the efficacy of immunotherapy are addressed.