Amping Up Dendritic Cells
This article was originally published in Start Up
Researchers are looking for ways to better stimulate dendritic cells (DCs, the antigen presenting cells that initiate and control many aspects of the immune response) in the hopes of creating potent vaccines against tumors and infectious diseases. A recent paper highlights progress on the DC targeting front using a DNA vaccine strategy, but is also a reminder that the immunotherapy field has a long way to go.
You may also be interested in...
GSK's first immunotherapy is still 4-5 years away, but it is already commissioning a companion diagnostic for it. By striking a deal with Abbott for a commercial screening test this early, the pharma may be laying the groundwork to address any regulatory concerns around using the test to enrich its clinical trials populations, which could allow for lower numbers of patients to be enrolled in order to prove efficacy.
Even as kinases remain a popular target in oncology for industry, two recent papers show how much we have yet to learn about how to interfere with these molecules. These most recent laboratory studies help explain the confusing observation that the very act of inhibiting a kinase with a drug can also "prime" phosphorylation of that target, which in some cases can actually enhance tumor activity.
Immunotherapy has seen its share of failures in recent months, but T-cell oriented therapies are by no means dead in the water and therapeutic cancer vaccines continue to attract funding. This month START-UP profiles three companies that nevertheless have been able to attract funding . They aim to avoid the difficulties that have sunk other efforts to commercialize immunotherapies. The firms are transplanting T cells along with same-donor bone marrow to fight infection, delivering powerful cytokines and other therapeutic payloads via T-cell receptor targeting, and genetically enhancing the ability of T-cell receptors to recognize antigens before growing those T cells in culture and re-infusing them into a patient's body.