The emergence of human intratumoural immunotherapy (HIT-IT) is a major step forward in the management of unresectable melanoma. The direct injection of treatments into melanoma lesions can cause cell lysis and induce a local immune response, and might be associated with a systemic immune response. Directly injecting immunotherapies into tumours achieves a high local concentration of immunostimulatory agent while minimising systemic exposure and, as such, HIT-IT agents are associated with lower toxicity than systemic immune checkpoint inhibitors (CPIs), enabling their potential use in combination with other therapies. Consequently, multiple HIT-IT agents, including oncolytic viruses, pattern-recognition receptor agonists, injected CPIs, cytokines and immune glycolipids, are under investigation. This review considers the current clinical development status of HIT-IT agents as monotherapy and in combination with systemic CPIs, and the practical aspects of administering and assessing the response to these agents. The future of HIT-IT probably lies in its use in combination with systemic CPIs; data from Phase 2 trials indicate a synergy between HIT-IT and CPIs. Data also suggest that the addition of HIT-IT to a CPI might generate responses in CPI-refractory tumours, thereby overcoming resistance and addressing a current unmet need in unresectable and metastatic melanoma for treatment options following progression after CPI treatment.
Br J Cancer