Society for Immunotherapy of Cancer (SITC) and the American Association for Cancer Research (AACR) Outline Future Directions for Investigating Immune-Related Adverse Events

Sept. 14, 2021

MILWAUKEE – The Society for Immunotherapy of Cancer (SITC) and the American Association for Cancer Research (AACR) have partnered to define recommendations for advancing the understanding of immune-related adverse events resulting from immunotherapy treatments. The recommendations are outlined in the publication, Development of preclinical and clinical models for immune-related adverse events following checkpoint immunotherapy: A perspective from SITC and AACR, which was published in the Journal for ImmunoTherapy of Cancer (JITC) and provides the field with guidance on how to address the pressing issue of toxicities. A related Q&A was published in Cancer Immunology Research, a journal of the American Association for Cancer Research.

Immune checkpoint inhibitors, which “release the brakes” of specific immune cells to boost anti-cancer responses, are now approved to treat a wide range of tumor types, with long-term benefits for many patients. However, these therapies are also associated with immune-related adverse events (irAEs), resulting from the overactive immune system that is the result of these therapies. While many of these irAEs are manageable, in some cases they can become life-threatening or permanent. These side effects can limit the use of these beneficial therapies for some patients.

A greater understanding of how these irAEs occur and how to manage them is necessary in order to ensure that all eligible patients can benefit from immunotherapy. SITC and AACR therefore partnered to hold a workshop in 2020 that discussed ways to advance the understanding of irAE mechanisms, bringing together experts in cancer immunotherapy, autoimmunity, immune regulation, genetics and informatics. The future directions discussed at this workshop form the foundation of the current publication.

Three key areas were identified that will help advance the understanding of irAE mechanisms: (1) improved preclinical models; (2) broader collection of biospecimens with appropriate clinical annotation; and (3) integration of health record information and multiomic data to provide insights into these rare events. The knowledge gained through these efforts may improve management of patients with irAEs and help clinicians identify patients at high risk for severe events.

The joint workshop was organized by SITC Past President Lisa H. Butterfield, PhD, Parker Institute for Cancer Immunotherapy and University of California San Francisco; AACR Past President Elizabeth M. Jaffee, MD, FAACR, Sidney Kimmel Comprehensive Cancer Center at Johns Hopkins University; and Arlene H. Sharpe, MD, PhD, FAACR, Harvard Medical School. Speaking on the importance of these efforts, Dr. Butterfield explained: “This meeting report and commentary are a call-to-action for the field of cancer immunotherapy that identifies specific areas for progress in our understanding of immune-related adverse events. Just as SITC and AACR partnered to establish these recommendations, so too will multidisciplinary collaborations be critical to answering these important questions.”

Additional information:

Full article title: Development of preclinical and clinical models for immune-related adverse events following checkpoint immunotherapy: A perspective from SITC and AACR

Published online on September 3, 2021

Available at:

About SITC

Established in 1984, the Society for Immunotherapy of Cancer (SITC) is a nonprofit organization of medical professionals dedicated to improving cancer patient outcomes by advancing the development, science and application of cancer immunotherapy and tumor immunology. SITC is comprised of influential basic and translational scientists, practitioners, health care professionals, government leaders and industry professionals around the globe. Through educational initiatives that foster scientific exchange and collaboration among leaders in the field, SITC aims to one day make the word “cure” a reality for cancer patients everywhere. Learn more about SITC, our educational offerings and other resources at and follow us on TwitterLinkedInFacebook and YouTube.

About JITC
Journal for ImmunoTherapy of Cancer (JITC) is the official open access, peer reviewed journal of the Society for Immunotherapy of Cancer. The journal publishes high-quality articles on all aspects of tumor immunology and cancer immunotherapy, on subjects across the basic science-translational-clinical spectrum. JITC publishes original research articles, position papers and practice guidelines, and case reports; invited and pre-vetted reviews and commentaries are also considered by the journal editors. These articles make JITC the leading forum dedicated to tumor immunology and cancer immunotherapy research.

About the American Association for Cancer Research
Founded in 1907, the American Association for Cancer Research (AACR) is the world’s first and largest professional organization dedicated to advancing cancer research and its mission to prevent and cure cancer. AACR membership includes 49,000 laboratory, translational, and clinical researchers; population scientists; other health care professionals; and patient advocates residing in 128 countries. The AACR marshals the full spectrum of expertise of the cancer community to accelerate progress in the prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of cancer by annually convening more than 30 conferences and educational workshops—the largest of which is the AACR Annual Meeting, with more than 74,000 attendees for the 2020 virtual meetings and more than 22,500 attendees for past in-person meetings. In addition, the AACR publishes nine prestigious, peer-reviewed scientific journals and a magazine for cancer survivors, patients, and their caregivers. The AACR funds meritorious research directly as well as in cooperation with numerous cancer organizations. As the Scientific Partner of Stand Up To Cancer, the AACR provides expert peer review, grants administration, and scientific oversight of team science and individual investigator grants in cancer research that have the potential for near-term patient benefit. The AACR actively communicates with legislators and other policymakers about the value of cancer research and related biomedical science in saving lives from cancer. For more information about the AACR, visit

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