Lymphocytes armed to kill: how customised cell engineering advances immunotherapy

Posted: 4 April 2018 | | No comments yet

The immune system is now regarded as a powerful weapon in the war against cancer, and in the current era immune cells have become ‘living drugs’. This review article considers some of the key advances in immuno-oncology…

The idea that the immune system’s own power can be harnessed and redirected to detect and destroy cancer cells has become a reality in the last decade.

We have come a long way from William Coley’s early suspicions that a link might exist between the immune system and an anti-cancer effect when he first observed that patients with sarcoma experienced tumour regression following severe bacterial infections. Much later, by isolating tumour infiltrating lymphocytes (TILs), a direct relationship between cancer and the immune system was discovered, which permitted a greater understanding of cellular immunology and the molecular mechanisms underlying the immune response to cancer.

This knowledge led to a new therapeutic approach that resulted in many success stories, primarily in the treatment of melanoma. 

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