Next Generation Immune Checkpoint Inhibitors

Release Date: 21-Feb-2023

Over the past decade, the introduction of immunotherapy in the field of cancer has significantly changed the treatment paradigm. The substantial progress in the understanding of how the tumor invades the immune system has developed innovative treatment strategies propelling the cancer immunology field into this present era of cancer immunotherapy. Among the developing immunotherapeutic option, immune checkpoint inhibitors have shown the most success and therefore, preclinical and clinical studies continue to find new ways and targets that can further better the outcomes.


Since the approval of first immune checkpoint inhibitor in 2011, this treatment modality has transformed the cancer care, further encouraging research and development activities for emerging inhibitors to improve responses and applications of immune checkpoint inhibitors. Some of the recent studies have identified new and emerging immune checkpoint inhibitors like LAG-3 (lymphocyte activation gene-3), TIM-3 (T cell immunoglobulin and mucin-domain containing-3), TIGIT (T cell immunoglobulin and ITIM domain), VISTA (V-domain Ig suppressor of T cell activation and several others.


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Up until now the field of checkpoint blockade is being dominated y PD-1/PDL-1 and CTLA-4 inhibitors but with the boosting research in the area it is foreseeable that these emerging immune targets will be certainly be impacting the now established immune checkpoint inhibitors market. For instance, clinical trials are exploring the potential of TIM-3 targeted therapies in monotherapy as well as dual immunotherapy regimen. Besides the therapeutic potential, TIM-3 inhibition is showing encouraging results in pre-clinical studies, improving the current immune checkpoint targeting therapies when given in combination. Promising findings have been reported in patients with acute myeloid leukemia, advanced melanoma, non-small cell lung cancer and Hodgkin lymphoma.


Furthermore, another emerging target TIGIT is being extensively tested in clinical setting with multiple TIGIT inhibitors already in clinical trials. For instance, Bristol Myers Squibb in collaboration with Ono Pharmaceuticals is testing, BMS-986207, an inhibitor of TIGIT, is currently in a phase I/II study for advanced solid tumors being tested in monotherapy as well as in combination with Nivolumab and Ipilimumab. Moreover, Nectin Therapeutics has signed a collaborative clinical arrangement with Merck to evaluate the safety, efficacy, tolerability and anti-tumor activity of NTX1088 in combination with Keytruda. The drug blocks a transmembrane protein, suppressing signaling of immune checkpoint inhibitors including TIGIT.


The significant research and development being conducted in the area and the robust pre-clinical studies has resulted in the US FDA approving a combination immunotherapy regime, Opdivo which includes Relatimab (LAG-3 inhibitor monoclonal antibody) and Nivolumab (PD-1 inhibiting monoclonal antibody) for the treatment of unresectable advanced melanoma. The drug is further being tested in clinical trials for more indications such as liver, lung, colorectal cancer.


Initially, drug development process was focused on targeting molecular characteristics of cancer cells but the onset of immunotherapy in cancer treatment landscape has changed the way we currently progress in developing suitable therapeutics. Given the rapid clinical adoption of immunotherapy in cancer, it is slowly becoming a first-line therapy for an increasing number of cancer subtypes. Several key pharmaceutical players like; Amgen, AstraZeneca, Bayer, Bristol Myers Squibb, Roche, Novartis, Pfizer, Eli Lilly, JandJ, Merck have been actively investing and researching in this segment to have better market penetration.


Given the unique approach compared to existing anti-cancer therapeutics, the next generation of immune checkpoint inhibitors appears to have a synergistic effect when given in combination. This report aims to provide an in-depth analysis on the current market trends and opportunities available in the newly emerging targets for immune checkpoint inhibitors. There are several factors that drive the growth of the market like rising incidence of cancer, growing unmet needs, rising research and development activities as well as increasing adoption towards emerging therapies; and there are factors that might limit the market’s growth. Our report will highlight all the mentioned features and determine the future outlook of immune checkpoint inhibitors market.

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