What do monoclonal antibodies, CAR-T therapy, and checkpoint inhibitor treatments all have in common? They are immunotherapies, or therapies that activate the immune system to fight or prevent a disease. While an activated immune system can help save a life, an overactive immune system can attack the body it is charged with protecting. This over-activity is the basis for autoimmune disorders.
The biotech industry has elegantly hacked the immune system — a highly complex network of signaling molecules, cells, and tissues — to make some of the leading immunotherapies such as Abbvie’s (North Chicago, IL) Humira that battles psoriasis or Merck’s (Kenilworth, NJ) Keytruda that fights different cancers. Let’s discover how the immune system operates and find out how our best and brightest are applying the immune approach to disease treatment.