The immune system plays an important role in targeting and destroying diseased and abnormal cells.
There are two modes of action by which the body's immune system can target and destroy diseased or abnormal cells.
- The first uses an antibody recognition system, which targets whole proteins on the cell surface;
- The other is through T-cell receptors that target peptides presented on the Human Leukocyte Antigen complex, or HLA.
The HLA peptide complex presents peptides that are derived from intracellular target proteins. TCRs target and bind to a specific HLA peptide complex, resulting in the targeting and destruction of the relevant cell.
Unfortunately binding of naturally occurring T-cell receptors to cancer targets tends to be very poor because cancer proteins appear very similar to naturally occurring proteins and are very good at evading the immune system. T-cell receptors that recognize "self-proteins" are eliminated during early human development.
At Adaptimmune, we harness the immune system and use engineered T-cell receptors to fight back against cancer. The affinity enhanced T-cell receptors, unlike their natural counterparts, can recognize and bind to cancer cells and as a result can stimulate the immune system to target and destroy cancer cells.