Immune therapies have seen a remarkable expansion in the last few years under the principle that enhancing the action of our own immune system is an effective way to combat infected and cancer cells. As such, scientists have developed several approaches to boost immunity against malignant cells, such as T cell receptor engineering (TCR) or chimeric antigen receptors (CARs).
T cells are a major component of our immune system and are distinguishable from other immune cells by the presence of a T-cell receptor (TCR) on the cell surface. TCRs recognize antigens (foreign substance) and are particularly important in defending our body, against either pathogens or cancer cells, because they recognize intracellular proteins, which are processed and delivered to the cell surface (this is what happens in several cancers, with cancer cells expressing specific proteins at their cell surface making them different from normal, healthy cells). By using engineered, increased affinity T cell receptors (TCRs) scientists are producing “super” T cells by strengthening natural patient T cell responses. Since cancerous or virally infected cells usually express abnormal proteins on their surface, this is used as a ““molecular fingerprint” for the enhanced T cells to recognize and destroy them.
A different immune therapy uses the Chimeric Antibody Receptors (CARs) – here, scientists use artificial molecules that, when present at the surface of T cells enables them to recognize the antigen and kill cells that express it at their surface. As such, T cells are engineered to express a CAR that recognizes a specific protein in the surface of cancer cells, for example.
In this recent report entitled “Engineered TCR and CAR Immunotherapeutics 2015: A comparative analysis of the landscape of and business opportunities with TCR and CAR antibodies, T cells, NK cells, TILs, DLIs & DLIs” the latest developments on these immune therapies are explained and information on companies developing and commercializing such therapies, presented.
The full report can be downloaded here.