Oncologists have long based their treatment options on the three pillars of cancer therapy: chemotherapy, surgery and radiation. However, years of basic and clinical research have led to the emergence of a fourth pillar in cancer care: cancer immunotherapy. Cancer immunotherapy involves the harnessing of the patient’s immune system to recognize antigens on cancer cells and specifically destroy tumors or prevent metastasis.
Immuno-oncology research is a rapidly advancing field with incredible potential to transform cancer medicine. Researchers are using cutting-edge immunology findings in order to establish innovative cancer immunotherapies. Researched fields include T cell-, B cell- and NK (Natural Killer) cell-mediated anti-tumor responses, cytokines, co-stimulators, chemotaxis, immune cell migration and immune tolerance. Basic immunology discoveries advance our knowledge of the potential use of certain immune cells and molecules to specifically target tumor cells or instruct the immune system. The immune system plays a critical role in tumor progression. Therefore, it is vital to characterize the potential impact of a drug candidate (antibody or small molecule) on the immune system.
At ITR, we measure and characterize these different aspects of the immune system in response to various cancer immunotherapies. In this newsletter, we highlight different techniques that we use to assess immunotoxicity as well as immune system functionality in response to different immuno-oncology-based therapies. These regulatory processes, which are essential to drive preclinical decisions, include: