At AgonOx we believe a cure for many types of cancer will be found through harnessing the power of the immune system. Within all tumors there exists a diverse mix of immune cells. In particular our company is interested in T cells and their function within tumor-bearing hosts. Some of these T cells are responding to new or overly expressed antigens that a tumor produces and are capable of destroying the tumor. Others are actively shutting down the immune response to protect healthy tissue. This dynamic and complex relationship is ongoing in the tumor microenvironment and is unique relative to blood. For this reason we are in the process of identifying new immunotherapy targets by understanding the complexity of human tumor infiltrating lymphocytes (TIL) isolated from several different tumor types. Through our close alignment with the Earl A Chiles Research Institute at the Providence Cancer Center we have evaluated over a hundred tumor specimens obtained from surgery. We process these samples as soon as they are obtained from the operating room in order to keep the immune phenotypes intact, which avoids changes that can occur during freezing or resting. Differences in RNA array data have identified genes that are upregulated in either the activating and suppressive immune populations within the tumor microenvironment. From this information we design and develop recombinant proteins, antibodies, or small molecules that block and/or activate novel immune-specific pathways. These agents are currently being tested in a battery of immune-specific in-vitro human assays and in mouse tumor models with the ultimate goal of treating cancer patients. We believe these new agents will add to the toolbox that oncologist have to treat and cure cancer.
The following is a representation of how the immune system interacts with cancer
Video posted with permission from the Society for Immunotherapy of Cancer (SITC) - sitcancer.org | https://www.sitcancer.org/viewdocument/immunotherapy-the-path-to-a-cancer