Immuno-oncology stands at the forefront of groundbreaking research, dedicated to developing therapies that harness the power of the immune system to combat cancer. The immune system, an intricate web of reactions and responses to cellular damage, infections, and diseases, including cancer, can be fine-tuned to target and treat cancer. This intricate system comprises two primary lines of defense: innate and adaptive immunity. Innate immunity encompasses the body’s surface barriers like the skin, as well as internal defenses such as fever and Natural Killer cells. On the other hand, adaptive immunity is developed through prior infections or vaccinations and involves the activation of T and B cells.
In the context of cancer and the immune system, a well-functioning cycle should unfold as follows:
-Cancer cells release antigens.
-Antigen-presenting cells capture these antigens.
-T cells are activated.
-T cells are recruited to the site of cancer.
-T cells infiltrate the cancerous tissue.
-T cells recognize and eliminate cancer cells.
Figure 1: T cell infiltration within tumor spheroid. A) 10:1 effector to target ratio B) No T cells.
However, disruptions can occur in this cycle, causing cancer cells to evade the immune system’s surveillance. This evasion can result from factors like rapid cancer cell proliferation, which outpaces the immune system’s ability to eliminate them, or the creation of a hostile environment by cancer cells that hinders immune cell activity. This is where immuno-oncology steps in.
The primary objectives of immuno-oncology therapeutics, known as immunotherapies, are to either stimulate the immune system to identify and selectively attack cancer cells or recreate components of the immune system in the laboratory to enhance immune function. The choice of immunotherapy depends on the type of cancer being treated.
Cellular Immunotherapies and Antibody Therapies
Two prominent categories of immunotherapies under active research are cellular immunotherapies (including CAR-T therapy, TCR therapy, and TIL therapy) and antibody therapies. CAR-T therapy involves genetically modifying a patient’s T cells to equip them with specialized receptors for heightened effectiveness, predominantly successful against blood cancers. TCR therapy also utilizes a patient’s T cells, activating and arming them with new receptors to target specific cancer antigens. TIL therapy, most effective against melanoma, involves harvesting tumor-infiltrating lymphocytes from a tumor and reintroducing them into the patient’s system for treatment.
Antibody therapies employ targeted antibodies to disrupt cancer cell functions and alert the immune system to eliminate cancer cells. “Naked” monoclonal antibodies bind to cancer cell antigens, disrupting crucial pathways for cancer cell activity. Conjugated monoclonal antibodies are combined with chemotherapy drugs or radioactive particles for precise delivery directly to cancer cells.
Work With Us
These examples merely scratch the surface of the exciting immuno-oncology research landscape. Visikol plays a crucial role in advancing immunotherapy development by offering a wide range of services and assays to support clients in their research endeavors. These services encompass Immune Cell Infiltration, Cell-Mediated Cytotoxicity/Effector Function, Antibody Penetration, and Immune Synapse Formation. Additionally, Visikol provides clients with diverse multiplexing techniques for histological slide analysis, including fluorescent multiplexing and imaging mass cytometry services. We encourage you to get in touch with our Visikol team to identify the most suitable assay and model for your specific research requirements.