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Cancer biology is a wily foe.

For all the recent treatment breakthroughs using drugs that leverage the immune system, tumors still find ways to avoid being killed. The failure Thursday of an AstraZeneca combination immunotherapy in lung cancer is a humbling setback for the field — and a reminder that many questions remain unanswered.


“Fundamentally, this is still imprecision medicine,” said Dr. George Demetri, an oncologist and professor at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in Boston, referring to cancer immunotherapy. “We have great targets, but we still don’t know how to identify the right patients.”

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