Phagocytosis checkpoints as new targets for cancer immunotherapy

Mingye Feng, Wen Jiang, Betty Y.S. Kim, Cheng Cheng Zhang, Yang Xin Fu, Irving L. Weissman

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

486 Scopus citations


Cancer immunotherapies targeting adaptive immune checkpoints have substantially improved patient outcomes across multiple metastatic and treatment-refractory cancer types. However, emerging studies have demonstrated that innate immune checkpoints, which interfere with the detection and clearance of malignant cells through phagocytosis and suppress innate immune sensing, also have a key role in tumour-mediated immune escape and might, therefore, be potential targets for cancer immunotherapy. Indeed, preclinical studies and early clinical data have established the promise of targeting phagocytosis checkpoints, such as the CD47–signal-regulatory protein α (SIRPα) axis, either alone or in combination with other cancer therapies. In this Review, we highlight the current understanding of how cancer cells evade the immune system by disrupting phagocytic clearance and the effect of phagocytosis checkpoint blockade on induction of antitumour immune responses. Given the role of innate immune cells in priming adaptive immune responses, an improved understanding of the tumour-intrinsic processes that inhibit essential immune surveillance processes, such as phagocytosis and innate immune sensing, could pave the way for the development of highly effective combination immunotherapy strategies that modulate both innate and adaptive antitumour immune responses.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)568-586
Number of pages19
JournalNature Reviews Cancer
Issue number10
StatePublished - Oct 1 2019

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology
  • Cancer Research


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