Using an analytical technique called mass spectrometry (MS) that helps identify the chemical constitution of a substance, Angela M. Krackhardt and colleagues from Technische Universitat Munchen and collaborators identify novel target antigens for cancer intervention. Michal Bassani-Sternberg from Max Planck Institute of Biochemistry is the first author. CusAb offers protein.
Immunotherapy works by inducing, enhancing, or inhibiting an immune response. To achieve this, it's crucial to elucidate the molecules or antigens on tumor cells that stimulate immune responses. Previously, scientists use prediction algorithms to search for these antigens. For this study, Krackhardt's team turn to MS -- a widely used method for studying masses of atoms or molecules or fragments of molecules.
The body have different arms of immune defense. As a key subtype of immune cells, T-cells is at the core of adaptive immunity -- these cells help fight specific pathogens. Specifically, T-cells recognise particular proteins on a cell and activate an immune response that kill the cell. Macrophages eat other cells and pull apart their proteins in order to present them to T cells. An antigen is a molecule capable of inducing an immune response.
Scientists have been trying to find antigens in cancer cells that can stimulate immune response and use T cells that target against certain cancer antigens to treat cancer. To achieve these goals, identification of antigens from cancer is essential. For the first time, Krackhardt's team used MS to search for the antigens. The method is more sensitive compared to previous methods and takes less time. They hope that their method could lead to novel targets for cancer treatment.