Classic Hodgkin lymphoma (cHL) is one of the most frequent lymphomas in the Western world. Its incidence has a bimodal distribution with the most important peak arising in the age group of children and adolescents and a second less prominent peak in the elderly. Until recently, therapeutic options consisted solely of chemotherapy and/or radiotherapy. Despite the achievement of relatively high cure rates with these regimens, long-term toxicity remains a great concern. Moreover, patients that relapse or are refractory to these treatments generally have a poor prognosis despite the fact that autologous or allogeneic stem cell transplantation are options in fit patients. In the last decade, increased understanding of the pathobiology of Hodgkin lymphoma has led to the identification of several molecular targets for new therapeutic agents. Several of these molecules (i.e. brentuximab vedotin, nivolumab and pembrolizumab) have already proven their benefit in clinical trials and were subsequently approved by the US Food and Drug administration (FDA) and the European Medicine Agency (EMA) as safe and efficacious therapies for relapsed or refractory (R/R) cHL. Further results of randomised controlled trials (RCTs) are awaited to determine if these therapies also have a place in first-line. In the meantime, several other novel agents – ranging from checkpoint inhibitors to antibody-based drugs and cellular therapies – are being tested in clinical and preclinical studies. In this review we present an overview of the most important types of immunotherapies that are currently being used in the treatment of cHL or who demonstrated promising therapeutic potential.
(BELG J HEMATOL 2019;10(8):320–5)