Tumor-associated myeloid cells (M2 macrophages and myeloid-derived suppressor cells) represent the most abundant yet heterogeneous and plastic immune populations within tumors, and their complexity is only beginning to be unraveled. Majety et al. review and comment on the clinical strategies (depletion, recruitment, reprogramming) that are being pursued to reverse the potent immunosuppressive effects of this cell population.
Despite decades of research, cancer remains a devastating disease and new treatment options are needed. Today cancer is acknowledged as a multifactorial disease not only comprising of aberrant tumor cells, but also the associated stroma including tumor vasculature, fibrotic plaques and immune cells that interact in a complex heterotypic interplay. Myeloid cells represent one of the most abundant immune cell population within the tumor stroma and are equipped with a broad functional repertoire that promotes tumor growth by suppressing cytotoxic T cell activity, stimulating neo-angiogenesis and tissue remodeling. Therefore myeloid cells have become an attractive target for pharmacological intervention. In this review we summarize the pharmacological approaches to therapeutically target tumor-associated myeloid cells with a focus on advanced programs that are clinically evaluated. In addition, for each therapeutic strategy the preclinical rationale as well as advantages and challenges from a drug development perspective are discussed. This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.