Mobilising T cells against Cancer

The first step in manufacturing T cell immunotherapies against cancer is T cell activation.

Photo by Birmingham Museums Trust on Unsplash

T cell Immunotherapies

Origins — T cell development

Target Acquired — T cell Activation

MHC Class I molecule vs. MHC Class II molecule. Both molecules present antigens to be recognised by a T-cell.

3 Signals for T cell Activation

Summary of the 3 signals of CD4-positive T cell activation.

Signal 1 — Antigen Receptor Engagement

Signal 1: MHC Class II-complex of antigen presentation cell binds to TCR complex of CD4-positive T cell. The TCR complex comprises of the antigen-binding chains (TCR- α and TCR- β), signaling subunits (CD3 and ζ chains) and CD4 or CD8 co-receptors.

Signal 2 — Co-stimulation

Signal 3 — Signalling Molecules

Non-specific T cell Activation — A Special Case

Launch Attack — Activation leads to Effector Functions

New York Times headline from 1908. Dr.William Coley developed a cocktail of heat-killed bacteria to treat inoperable cancers — one of the earliest forms of immunotherapy. He could not explain why it had worked then but we now know why.


Scientist in training; paving the way for next generation immunotherapies. I explore stories, methods and the creative process behind scientific discoveries.

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