Harnessing the immune system for the treatment of melanoma: current status and future prospects

When malignant melanoma is diagnosed early, surgical resection is the intervention of choice and is often curative, but many patients present with unresectable disease at later stages. Due to its complex etiology paired with well-documented chemoresistance and high metastatic potential, patients with advanced melanoma had a poor prognosis, and the treatment of this disease remained unsatisfactory for many years. Recently, targeted therapy, immune checkpoint inhibition, or combinatory approaches have revolutionized the therapeutic options of melanoma allowing considerable improvement in disease control and survival. In this review we will summarize these novel therapeutic strategies with particular focus on combinatory immunotherapies and further discuss recent data derived from immunogenomic studies and potential options to improve the therapeutic efficacy of immune modulatory approaches.