Over the last decade there has been a boom of companies looking into immunotherapies for treating cancer and currently there are many different types of cancer immunotherapies that are being researched. Work is being conducted on immunomodulators (checkpoint inhibitors, cytokines), adoptive cell therapy (CAR-T, TCR, TIL), cancer vaccines, oncolytic virus therapy, and targeted antibodies. Each approach utilizes various components of the immune system as well as tackling different steps in the immune response cycle in order to treat cancer.
Immunomodulators, specifically checkpoint inhibitors, and adoptive cell therapies have seen the most recent advances. On July 24, 2020, the FDA approved a PD-L1 checkpoint inhibitor for the treatment of melanoma and on July 30, 2020 a CAR T cell immunotherapy was approved for the treatment of relapsed or refractory Mantle Cell Lymphoma. This is the first cell-based immunotherapy that has been approved for this cancer patient group. Immunomodulators are molecules or substances that have an effect on the pathways that regulate the immune system’s activities. Checkpoint inhibitors, as the name implies, blocks certain immune checkpoints. Adoptive cell therapies are an approach that uses the patient’s own immune cells to enhance the immune systems’ ability to eliminate cancer.
There has recently been a shift towards finding effective combinations of treatments such as pairing a checkpoint inhibitor (release the brakes) with a costimulatory receptor (step on the gas) to improve response rates. There has been a big push towards combining immunotherapies with traditional cancer therapies (i.e. chemotherapy). For example, on June 30, 2020 the FDA approved the combinational use of avelumab, a PD-1 inhibitor, with platinum-based chemotherapy as a maintenance treatment for patients with locally advanced or metastatic urothelial carcinoma. This is still a new approach that has many advantages but also disadvantages that researchers are striving to overcome.
In the last couple of years, the fields of nanotechnology and immunotherapy have merged. Nanoparticles can be used to encapsulate, carry, and deliver various chemotherapeutics or immunotherapeutics for increased stability and targeting. The effectiveness of these particles can be tuned and manipulated with surface modifications making it more adaptive. There is vast potential for the application of nanomedicine in immuno-oncology.
This is just scratching the surface of all the exciting research that is being conducted in the field of immuno-oncology. Visikol has a part to play in this process by offering various services and assays to help researchers further their work such as its Cell Mediated Cytotoxicity/Effector Function Assay, Antibody Penetration Assay, and Immune Cell Infiltration Assay. Additionally, Visikol most recently launched its multiplex slide imaging services which allow for the interrogation of 10+ markers simultaneously from a single tissue section
Contact us to work with our Visikol team to identify the best assay and model for your specific research needs.