Ever since President Nixon declared war on cancer, giant strides have been made to conquer cancer. As 30%–50% of all cancers are preventable, according to the World Health Organization, primary preventive measures – including active immunization against human papillomavirus and hepatitis B virus and lifestyle changes such as cessation of tobacco smoking and alcohol use, increase in physical activity through moderate exercise, and dietary modifications to decrease the risk of obesity – have the potential to reduce the incidence of malignancy. In addition, secondary measures such as adherence to screening guidelines and improvements in diagnostic imaging and testing procedures enable health-care professionals to detect cancer and initiate treatment at an early stage. This approach disrupts or slows down the progress of the disease, which ultimately helps to minimize cancer-related mortality. And now, with the advent of immunotherapeutic agents and targeted therapies, durable and dramatic responses have been observed in several hard-to-treat malignancies, outlining a roadmap to conquering cancer.
However, the success in treating cancer has to be tempered with caution. The reality is that we still have a lot to do. Despite the significant advances in this era of personalized medicine, incidence of cancer remains high and is a leading cause of death worldwide. Further, as response to currently available treatment is limited to a subset of cancer patients and is associated with significant side effects, cancer remains a major public health problem.
In treating patients with such a challenging and life-threatening disease, health-care professionals and scientists are ever daunted by equally challenging questions. The approach of one treatment for all cancers – “one size fits all” – is now obsolete. Major hurdles that hamper progress in this area includes identifying patients who are likely to respond to treatment even before initiation of therapy and identifying patients who are at risk of developing side effects from the treatment. A better understanding of tumor biology and impact of treatment on the tumor microenvironment will enable physicians to make informed treatment decisions. Hence, there is an intense search to identify biomarkers of response and toxicity that would enable personalizing immunotherapy, targeted therapy, radiation therapy, or any modality of cancer treatment based on the genomic, proteomic, and immunologic landscape of tumor tissue.
This approach is expected to enhance efficacy and minimize treatment-associated toxicity, resulting in complete and durable responses without recurrence, wherein lies the future of biomedical research. Thus, biomarker-focused translational research not only will optimize the use of targeted and immunotherapeutic agents to treat cancer but also will ultimately improve patient survival and patient satisfaction and reduce health-care-associated costs.
As members of the scientific community, we have a moral responsibility to share the findings of our research activities, including both positive and negative results. Dissemination of knowledge is critical for increasing awareness among health-care professionals. To this end, our mission at the Journal of Immunotherapy and Precision Oncology is to provide an opportunity for health-care professionals and scientists to share clinical and translational discoveries related to personalized cancer therapy. The journal welcomes manuscripts that focus on research reports of clinical trials, review papers, and case reports. Our review process is double-blinded as a fair review process is essential, and rapid dissemination of such knowledge is our goal.
In the current issue, Ameratunga et al. discussed the fine divide between optimistic future and the realistic challenges associated with treatment of cancer with personalized cancer immunotherapy. The review by Zarifa et al. summarizes the incidence of rare but potentially fatal cardiotoxicity associated with immunotherapy.
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On behalf of Associate Chief Editors, Jordi Rodon Ahnert and Timothy Yap, and members of the Editorial Board [Table 1], I hereby present the second issue of the Journal of Immunotherapy and Precision Oncology.