Antigenics: Getting down to (patient) specifics

A challenge to developing cancer therapies is that any given cancer in any particular patient is genetically distinct. While a competent immune response may succeed in the elimination of precancerous lesions in some patients, in others a developing cancer may evade the immune system completely.

Building on the activation of the body's immunological response to manage or prevent metastasis, Antigenics has developed a technology that uses a transporter molecule known as heat shock protein (HSP) to activate CD8+ T cells. The company discovered that heat shock proteins bind to a large repertoire of peptides within cells, acting as "chaperones" of the peptides, and that the HSP-bound peptide repertoire differs between normal tissues and cancer.