In 2017, the first immuno-oncology cell therapies, known as chimeric antigen receptor T cells, or CAR T, were approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Immuno-oncology cell therapy is a field that leverages the immune system by modifying, and thereby enhancing, immune cells to target cancer. It accomplishes this by interdicting pathways that maintain checks and balances on cellular elements of the immune system, thereby disrupting the tolerance of the body to the growth and the spread of cancer.
CAR-T therapies have had an unprecedented success in blood cancers, such as certain leukemias and lymphomas. They have shown high response rates and redefined the treatment of patients who have exhausted other options. The therapeutic success relies on an antibody fragment that binds to a surface protein on leukemias and lymphomas; the protein is known as CD19. The antibody fragment is linked to stimulatory and signaling molecules that fire upon binding of the antibody with the CD19 molecule, thereby activating the T cells and making them destroy the cancer cell.
Avacta Group Plc (LON:AVCT) principal focus is on its proprietary Affimer® technology which is a novel engineered alternative to antibodies that has wide application in Life Sciences for diagnostics, therapeutics and general research and development.