The patient’s immune system can spontaneously attack and destroy cancer cells
This occurs when tumor-associated antigens released from dying cancer cells are presented by cells of the innate immune system (Antigen presenting cells) to Naïve T cells in lymphoid organs. A CTL (Cytotoxic T Lymphocte) immune response is generated to destroy the tumor and an immune memory is also generated to prevent cancer recurrences. However, tumors often develop escape strategies, for instance by inactivating T cells. The patient’s anti-tumoral immune system therefore has to be sustained to efficiently control cancer.
Cancer Immunotherapies aim at sustaining the patient’s immune system
Immunotherapy aims at boosting naturally occurring T cell response by administering more tumoral antigens (therapeutic vaccines) to the patient, by activating antigen presentation (i.e. innate immune system agonists), by inhibiting tumor escape (checkpoint inhibitors) or by administering to the patient ex vivo engineered T cells capable of directly eliminating tumor cells (CAR-T cells).
Immune checkpoint inhibitors (ICI) are the most revolutionary cancer immunotherapy. However, current cancer immunotherapy using immune checkpoint (IC) inhibitors has cured only a small number of patients. The frequent failure of cancer immunotherapy to cure patients has been attributed to the lack of tumor-specific CTL and/or Immune checkpoint expression at the tumor site, and to the immunosuppressive tumor microenvironment.
A new dimension in immuno-oncology
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