Cancer immunotherapy aims to nurture and use our own immune system to our advantage to fight against cancer. By balancing the offense and defense, by studying and carefully manipulating these two systems we aim to drive the body back to its natural state.
Among the most promising approaches to activating therapeutic antitumour immunity is the blockade of immune checkpoints. Immune checkpoints refer to a plethora of inhibitory pathways hardwired into the immune system that are crucial for maintaining self-tolerance and modulating the duration and amplitude of physiological immune responses in peripheral tissues in order to minimize collateral tissue damage.
It is now clear that tumours co-opt certain immune-checkpoint pathways as a major mechanism of immune resistance, particularly against T cells that are specific for tumour antigens. Because many of the immune checkpoints are initiated by ligand–receptor interactions, they can be readily blocked by antibodies or modulated by recombinant forms of ligands or receptors.
Immune checkpoint를 block 하면서 동시에 체내 면역세포의 기능을 극대화시킬 수 있는 나노시스템을 개발함으로써, 우리 몸의 면역계를 활성화시켜 암을 치료하는 기술을 개발하고자 한다. 체내 면역시스템을 제어하여 항암 치료에 이용하는 것은 안전성에서 우월할 뿐 아니라, 다양한 항암세포를 표적으로 삼을 수 있어서 기존의 항암치료가 갖고 있던 적용 부분의 한계점을 극복할 수 있으리라 예상된다.