Cancer and inflammation: Promise for biologic therapy

Sandra Demaria, Eli Pikarsky, Michael Karin, Lisa M. Coussens, Yen Ching Chen, Emad M. El-Omar, Giorgio Trinchieri, Steven M. Dubinett, Jenny T. Mao, Eva Szabo, Arthur Krieg, George J. Weiner, Bernard A. Fox, George Coukos, Ena Wang, Robert T. Abraham, Michele Carbone, Michael T. Lotze

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

272 Scopus citations


Cancers often arise as the end stage of inflammation in adults, but not in children. As such there is a complex interplay between host immune cells during neoplastic development, with both an ability to promote cancer and limit or eliminate it, most often complicit with the host. In humans, defining inflammation and the presence of inflammatory cells within or surrounding the tumor is a critical aspect of modern pathology. Groups defining staging for neoplasms are strongly encouraged to assess and incorporate measures of the presence of apoptosis, autophagy, and necrosis and also the nature and quality of the immune infiltrate. Both environmental and genetic factors enhance the risk of cigarette smoking, Helicobacter pylori, hepatitis B/C, human papilloma virus, solar irradiation, asbestos, pancreatitis, or other causes of chronic inflammation. Identifying suitable genetic polymorphisms in cytokines, cytokine receptors, and Toll-like receptors among other immune response genes is also seen as high value as genomic sequencing becomes less expensive. Animal models that incorporate and assess not only the genetic anlagen but also the inflammatory cells and the presence of microbial pathogens and damage-associated molecular pattern molecules are necessary. Identifying micro-RNAs involved in regulating the response to damage or injury are seen as highly promising. Although no therapeutic strategies to prevent or treat cancers based on insights into inflammatory pathways are currently approved for the common epithelial malignancies, there remains substantial interest in agents targeting COX2 or PPARγ, ethyl pyruvate and steroids, and several novel agents on the horizon.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)335-351
Number of pages17
JournalJournal of Immunotherapy
Issue number4
StatePublished - May 2010


  • COX2
  • Chronic inflammation
  • Cytokine polymorphisms
  • Damage-associated molecular pattern molecules (damps)
  • Ethyl pyruvate
  • Hmgb1
  • Innate immunity
  • Pathogen-associated molecular pattern molecules (pamps)
  • Steroids
  • Tgfβ


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