Chemotherapy and tumor immunity

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Science  21 Dec 2018:
Vol. 362, Issue 6421, pp. 1355-1356
DOI: 10.1126/science.aav7871

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A large increase in the incidence of cancers has been predicted for the coming years, with the number of cases worldwide rising from 15 million to 24 million between 2015 and 2035 (1). The current revolution in cancer treatment—cancer immunotherapy—is based on the mobilization of the immune system to target cancer cells and is opening new avenues for achieving cancer control. However, evidence suggests that immunotherapies in many cancers are most effective when combined with other treatments, such as surgery, radiotherapy, and chemotherapy. On page 1416 of this issue, Ruscetti et al. (2) show that a combination of chemotherapy drugs inhibiting MEK (mitogen-activated protein kinase kinase) and CDKs (cyclin-dependent kinases) induces tumor cell senescence, a type of cell growth arrest, that alerts the innate immune system by activating natural killer (NK) cells, leading to immune control of the cancer.