The most exciting developments in cancer treatment today involve drugs that activate a patient’s own immune system to destroy cancer cells, overcoming the mechanisms cancer cells use to escape detection and immune system attack. Re-activating the immune system against cancer is known as cancer immunotherapy or immuno-oncology. The goal of these therapies is to help the immune system to detect cancer cells and destroy malignancies as well as to enable other anti-cancer treatments to work more effectively.
The immune system discovers foreign invaders or abnormal cells by recognizing specific molecules, called antigens, which trigger an immune response. The concept of “neoantigens”, a recent development in cancer research, is used to describe mutated proteins specific to the patient’s cancer cells. Neoantigens are now increasingly recognized as important targets for immune system activation.
Immunicum’s approach harnesses the patient’s own tumor as a direct neoantigen source through the administration of modified dendritic cells directly into the patient’s tumor. These cells then recruit and activate the patient´s own dendritic cells to the tumor site where they will encounter and engulf dying tumor cells and/or tumor cell debris, including the full array of “personalized” and tumor-specific neoantigens. The goal is to activate the patient’s own immune response to destroy the cancer cells.