The LICR maintains the Cancer Immunome Database, a publicly-available database that aims to document all immunogenic cancer antigens.
The immune system is a complex and highly integrated network of specialized cells and proteins that recognizes, and protects the body from, foreign entities such as bacteria, viruses, and fungi. Additionally it is believed that the immune system also plays a role in protecting against cancer, and LICR is a world leader in this field of cancer immunology. LICR investigators are using the results of their immunology research to develop targeted therapies that harness the patient’s own immune system to fight their cancer.
LICR scientists have made many seminal discoveries in the field of cancer immunology. These include the identification and characterization of the first human cancer antigen, and of cytokines like granulocyte macrophage-colony stimulating factor (GM-CSF), which is a standard treatment in the clinic today. This expertise is now focused on the development and optimization of two types of immunotherapy - targeted antibodies and cancer vaccines (LICR Clinical Trials Program).
LICR investigators are working to exploit the exquisite specificity of antibody binding by identifying and/or engineering antibodies that can fight cancer in one of two ways. The first approach is to generate antibodies that bind to tumor antigens and thus direct the immune system to destroy cancer cells. The second approach is to attach a radioisotope or toxin to the antibody, and thus deliver it directly to the cancer cell. The LICR has assembled a large portfolio of antibodies, many of which have been assessed in early-phase clinical trials for their safety, tumor targeting, pharmacokinetic, and tumor response characteristics.
LICR investigators are currently evaluating cancer vaccines that provoke the body’s immune system into recognizing cancer antigens, and destroying the cells that display the antigens. It is believed that the immunological destruction of the cancer cells will control tumor growth, and limit cancer metastasis.