What is targeted immunotherapy?

Targeted immunotherapy is a customized approach to treating long-term dynamic pathologies (e.g., cancer) using small molecule-drugs and monoclonal antibodies to manipulate the immune system. Traditionally, cancer treatment is determined by tumor vulnerability. However, tumors often change over time and develop resistances to traditional therapeutic methods. Targeted immunotherapy interferes with tumor growth and metastasis by optimizing immune system function for the destruction of cancer cells.1 This can be done by labeling cancer cells (e.g., with monoclonal antibodies) so that they are more readily identified by immune cells. Such labels can also be combined with toxins, turning the tracer into an agent in its own right. Small molecule-based targeted immunotherapy can act on the mutated cell cycle proteins possessed by cancer cells, causing them to become susceptible to programmed cell death like healthy cells. Other small molecules can prevent tumor formation or cancer cell-promotion of angiogenesis. Additional information on immunotherapy can be found in our resource center.

1. P. Gotwals, et al., "Prospects for combining targeted and conventional cancer therapy with immunotherapy," Nat Rev Cancer 17(5):286-301, 2017.