BACKGROUND AND OBJECTIVE: The goal of this narrative review is to report and summarize the completed pediatric immunotherapy clinical trials for primary CNS tumors. Pediatric central nervous system (CNS) tumors are the most common cause of pediatric solid cancer in children aged 0 to 14 years and the leading cause of cancer mortality. Survival rates for some pediatric brain tumors have improved, however, there remains a large portion of pediatric brain tumors with poor survival outcomes despite advances in treatment. Cancer immunotherapy is a growing field that has shown promise in the treatment of pediatric brain tumors that have historically shown a poor response to treatment. This narrative review provides a summary and discussion of the published literature focused on treating pediatric brain tumors with immunotherapy.
METHODS: MEDLINE via PubMed, Embase and Scopus via Elsevier were searched. The search utilized a combination of keywords and subject headings to include pediatrics, brain tumors, and immunotherapies. Manuscripts included in the analysis included completed clinical studies using any immunotherapy intervention with a patient population that consisted of at least half pediatric patients (<18 years) with primary CNS tumors. Conference abstracts were excluded as well as studies that did not include completed safety or primary outcome results.
KEY CONTENT AND FINDINGS: Search results returned 1,494 articles. Screening titles and abstracts resulted in 180 articles for full text review. Of the 180 articles, 18 were included for analysis. Another two articles were ultimately included after review of references and inclusion of newly published articles, for a total of 20 included articles. Immunotherapies included dendritic cell vaccines, oncolytic virotherapy/viral immunotherapy, chimeric antigen receptor (CAR) T-cell therapy, peptide vaccines, immunomodulatory agents, and others.
CONCLUSIONS: In this review, 20 published articles were highlighted which use immunotherapy in the treatment of primary pediatric brain tumors. To date, most of the studies published utilizing immunotherapy were phase I and pilot studies focused primarily on establishing safety and maximum dose-tolerance and toxicity while monitoring survival endpoints. With established efficacy and toxicity profiles, future trials may progress to further understanding the overall survival and quality of life benefits to pediatric patients with primary brain tumors.