The immune system protects the body from any foreign matters that might cause any damage. The success of the immune system depends on its ability to discriminate between foreign (non self) and host (self) cells. Cancer cells thrive, in part, because they trick the immune system into treating them as self, even though they express abnormal antigens, and thus immune tolerance occurs when the immune system fails to recognize and attack tumors. Breaking immune tolerance is an important aspect of most immuno-oncology based therapeutics because it enables the immune system to recognize and treat tumors as non-self and lead to tumor destruction.
Our therapeutic programs are focused on developing products using our gene editing platform to develop gene edited T-cells that express a Chimeric Antigen Receptors (CAR) and are designed to target and destroy cancer cells. CARs are artificial molecules that, when present at the surface of immune effector cells, will enable them to recognize a desired protein, or antigen, and trigger the killing of cells harboring this antigen at their surface (target cells). Immune cells -most usually T lymphocytes- can be engineered to express a CAR able to recognize proteins present at the surface of cancer cells. Upon cell-to-cell contact between effector and targeted cells, antigen recognition will activate the effectors, giving them the signal to attack their targets, and leading ultimately to the killing of cancer cells.