Cancer Immunology, Immunotherapy

, Volume 68, Issue 1, pp 1–9 | Cite as

Addressing current challenges and future directions in immuno-oncology: expert perspectives from the 2017 NIBIT Foundation Think Tank, Siena, Italy

  • Michele MaioEmail author
  • George Coukos
  • Soldano Ferrone
  • Bernard A. Fox
  • Wolf H. Fridman
  • Patrick L. Garcia
  • Michael Lahn
  • Olivier Provendier
  • Vincenzo Russo
  • Dominik Rüttinger
  • Aiman Shalabi
  • Zlatko Trajanoski
  • Jean Viallet
  • Jedd D. Wolchok
  • Ramy Ibrahim
Opinion Paper


A collaborative think tank involving panellists from immuno-oncology networks, clinical/translational investigators and the pharmaceutical industry was held in Siena, Italy, in October 2017 to discuss the evolving immune-oncology landscape, identify selected key challenges, and provide a perspective on the next steps required in the translation of current research and knowledge to clinical reality. While there is a trend of combining new agents (e.g., co-stimulator agonists) with a PD-1/PD-L1 treatment backbone, use of alternative combination therapy approaches should also be considered. While the rapid evolution in systems biology provides a deeper understanding of tumor and tumor microenvironment heterogeneity, there remains the need to identify and define genuinely predictive biomarkers to guide treatment and patient selection. Cross-specialty and cross-sector collaboration, along with a broader collective data-sharing approach are key to optimizing immuno-oncology therapy in clinical practice. Continued support of younger research-clinicians is essential for future success in clinical, translational and basic science investigations.


Immunotherapy PD-1 PD-L1 CTLA-4 OX-40 Biomarkers 



Absolute lymphocyte count


Absolute monocyte count


Absolute neutrophil count


Glucocorticoid-induced tumor necrosis factor receptor


Human integrated tumor immunology discovery engine


Mitogen-activated protein kinase kinase


“Network Italiano per la Bioterapia dei Tumori” (Italian Network for Tumor Biotherapy)


Proto-oncogene B-Raf


Short-lived proteins


Society for Immunotherapy of Cancer


Tumor-infiltrating lymphocyte


Tumor microenvironment



The panel was organized with support of the NIBIT Foundation. The authors wish to thank Michael Smith (IntraMed, Milan) and Iain O’Neill (Medical Writer) for providing medical writing and editorial support.

Author contributions

All authors participated in the panel discussions. MM and RI conceived the review together with key participants. The manuscript was developed from panel notes with input from MM, ML, BAF, GC, JW and RI. All authors critically contributed to the final manuscript draft and approved the final version.


The panel and the development of this paper were supported by the NIBIT Foundation. The contents and topics of the panel discussions and of this paper were not influenced by the sponsor.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

Michel Lahn was an employee of Incyte Biosciences International Sarl, Geneva, Switzerland, at the time of this panel and holds stocks of Incyte. Dominik Reuttinger is an employee of Roche Pharmaceuticals. Patrick L Garcia is an employee of Merck KGaA. Olivier Provendier is an employee of Laboratoires Pierre Fabre. Michele Maio is a consultant/advisory board member for Bristol-Myers Squibb, Incyte, Merck Sharp & Dohme Oncology, Roche, Astex Pharmaceuticals, Amgen, AstraZeneca and Merck Serono. Ramy Ibrahim is an advisory board member for Harpoon, Arcus, Immunovaccine and ImaginAB. Aiman Shalabi was a consultant at the Cancer Research Institute, New York, NY, USA, at the time of this panel. All other authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Center for Immuno-Oncology, Medical Oncology and Immunotherapy, Istituto Toscano TumoriUniversity Hospital of SienaSienaItaly
  2. 2.Italian Network for Tumor Bio-Immunotherapy Foundation, Center for Immuno-Oncology, Istituto Toscano TumoriUniversity Hospital of SienaSienaItaly
  3. 3.Lausanne Branch, Ludwig Institute for Cancer ResearchUniversity of LausanneEpalingesSwitzerland
  4. 4.Department of OncologyUniversity Hospital of Lausanne (CHUV)LausanneSwitzerland
  5. 5.Department of Surgery, Massachusetts General HospitalHarvard Medical SchoolBostonUSA
  6. 6.Earle A. Chiles Research Institute at the Robert W. Franz Cancer Center, Providence Cancer InstituteProvidence Portland Medical CenterPortlandUSA
  7. 7.Cancer, Immune Control and Escape TeamCordeliers Research Center, INSERM UMRS 1138ParisFrance
  8. 8.MerckAubonneSwitzerland
  9. 9.An Affiliate of Merck KGaADarmstadtGermany
  10. 10.OberurselGermany
  11. 11.Laboratoires Pierre FabreBoulogne-BillancourtFrance
  12. 12.Unit of Immuno-Biotherapy of Melanoma and Solid Tumors, Division of Experimental OncologySan Raffaele Scientific InstituteMilanItaly
  13. 13.Roche Pharma Research and Early DevelopmentRoche Innovation Center MunichPenzbergGermany
  14. 14.Cancer Research InstituteNew YorkUSA
  15. 15.Biocenter, Division of BioinformaticsMedical University of InnsbruckInnsbruckAustria
  16. 16.MalvernUSA
  17. 17.Ludwig Center for Cancer ImmunotherapyParker Institute for Cancer ImmunotherapySan FranciscoUSA
  18. 18.Department of Medicine, Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer CenterWeill Cornell Medical and Graduate SchoolsNew YorkUSA
  19. 19.Parker Institute for Cancer ImmunotherapySan FranciscoUSA

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