Harnessing an antitumor immune response has been a fundamental strategy in cancer immunotherapy. For over a century, efforts have primarily focused on amplifying immune activation mechanisms that are employed by humans to eliminate invaders such as viruses and bacteria. This “immune enhancement” strategy often results in rare objective responses and frequent immune-related adverse events (irAEs). However, in the last decade, cancer immunotherapies targeting the B7-H1/PD-1 pathway (anti-PD therapy), have achieved higher objective response rates in patients with much fewer irAEs.
This Perspective discusses the concept of immune normalization and how its underlying principles may help to augment, as well as design, cancer immunotherapies.