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Curr Opin Pharmacol. 2013 Aug;13(4):497-503. doi: 10.1016/j.coph.2013.04.006. Epub 2013 May 7.

Tumour heterogeneity and immune-modulation.

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Translational Cancer Therapeutics Laboratory, Cancer Research UK, London Research Institute, London WC2A 3LY, UK.


Recent advances in sequencing technologies have revealed extensive intratumour heterogeneity (ITH) both within individual tumours and between primary and metastatic tumours for different cancer types. Such genetic diversity may have clinical implications for both cancer diagnosis and treatment with increasing evidence linking ITH and therapeutic resistance. Nonetheless, whilst limiting the activity of targeted agents, tumour genetic heterogeneity may provide a new therapeutic opportunity through generation of neo-antigens that could be recognised and targeted by the patient's own immune system in response to immune-modulatory therapies. Longitudinal genomic studies assessing tumour clonal architecture and its correlation with the underlying immune response to cancer in each particular patient are needed to follow tumour evolutionary dynamics over time and through therapy, in order to further understand the mechanisms behind drug resistance and to inform the development of new combinatorial therapeutic strategies.

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