Activating a Killer Immune Response
Overcoming Barriers to Immune Response
The immune system’s battle against cancer is complicated by naturally occurring immune checkpoints, which protect against excessive immune responses that can destroy healthy cells.
T cells can be taught to recognize and kill tumor cells. However, they often fail to do so, because tumors produce immune checkpoint proteins that bind with partner proteins on the surface of the T cells, effectively putting the brakes on the immune system’s ability to destroy the cancer.
Increasing the Efficacy of Checkpoint Inhibitors
A new class of therapeutics, called checkpoint inhibitors, prevents checkpoint proteins from blocking T cells, if they are present, and allowing them to attack the cancer cells.
Unfortunately, checkpoint inhibitors are only effective in patients who already have an activated T cell response targeting their tumors. A majority of people living with cancer do not have these tumor-targeted T cells and therefore do not respond to checkpoint inhibition therapy.
The efficacy of checkpoint inhibitors may be increased by combining them with an immune activator to stimulate T cells to attack the tumor.