The influence of radiation in the context of developing combination immunotherapies in cancer

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


In addition to tumouricidal activity, radiotherapy is now recognized to display potent immunostimulatory properties that can contribute to the generation of anti-cancer immune responses. Treatment with radiation can induce a variety of pro-immunogenic and phenotypic changes in malignant cells, and recalibrate the immune contexture of the tumour microenvironment, leading to enhanced activation of the innate immune system, and priming of tumour-specific T-cell immunity. The immune-dependent effects of radiotherapy provide a sound rationale for the development of combination strategies, whereby the immunomodulatory properties of radiation can be exploited to augment the activity of immunotherapeutic agents. Encouraged by the recent success of breakthrough therapies such as immune checkpoint blockade, and a wealth of experimental data demonstrating the efficacy of radiotherapy and immunotherapy combinations, the clinical potential of this approach is now being explored in numerous trials. Successful translation will require careful consideration of the most suitable dose and fractionation of radiation, choice of immunotherapy and optimal sequencing and scheduling regimen. Immunological control of cancer is now becoming a clinical reality. There is considerable optimism that the development of effective radiotherapy and immunotherapy combinations with the capacity to induce durable, systemic immunity will further enhance patient outcome and transform the future management of cancer.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)115-122
Number of pages8
JournalTherapeutic advances in vaccines and immunotherapy
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2017

Research Beacons, Institutes and Platforms

  • Manchester Cancer Research Centre


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