Cancer immune evasion is one of the emerging hallmarks of cancer and ever since its observation, researchers try to use it to their advantage in order to create new therapeutic possibilities. Immunotherapies aim at boosting the immune system’s capacity to fight the disease. Common approaches of immunotherapy are

  1. Immune checkpoint inhibitors

Immune checkpoints are important constituents of the immune system that avoid an overshooting immune reaction and are thus important to prevent chronic inflammation or autoimmunity. Immune cells like T lymphocytes express immune checkpoint receptors and upon binding of their respective ligand the cells are suppressed. Cancer cells exploit this regulatory mechanism by expressing high levels of immune checkpoint ligands, thereby suppressing the anti-tumor immune response. Immune checkpoint inhibitors block the activation of immune checkpoint receptors to sustain immune cell activity against malignant cells.

  1. T-cell transfer

T cells are part of the adaptive immune system and can mount a potent immune response against cancers. To improve their efficacy, they can be isolated from the tumor, the most active cells can be selected and expanded and finally infused back into the patient. New innovative T cell based therapies have recently been developed, where T cells are not only selected, but specifically engineered to efficiently destroy the tumor before being transfused to the patient. These therapies include chimeric antigen receptor (CAR)-T cell therapy as well as T cell receptor (TCR) engineering.

  1. Monoclonal antibodies

Monoclonal antibodies can bind to target cells and mark them for destruction by immune cells or bring them into close proximity with cytotoxic immune cells. New developments also include multispecific antibodies, increasing the specificity for tumor cells and thus reducing adverse effects.

  1. Cancer vaccines

Tumor antigens are often neo-antigens not expressed by normal cells or only to a very low extent. Cancer vaccines introduce these antigens to the immune cells and thus strengthen the immune response against the cancer.

  1. Immunomodulatory drugs

Several drugs can be used to either stimulate or suppress the immune system. These include for example cytokines like interferons, which enhance the inflammatory reaction of the body. Furthermore, synthetic immunomodulatory drugs have been developed that stimulate the immune system, e.g. thalidomide or lenalidomide

All these immunotherapies have in common that their specific interaction with the immune cells and/or the tumor cells is crucial for their clinical efficacy. Using the switchSENSE® technology you can investigate all necessary interactions to optimize immunotherapies, like receptor-receptor binding, receptor-ligand binding or antibody-target binding. 


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