It is well established that T-cell based immunotherapy can be very effective in treating cancers. Neo-antigens, which are epitopes that come about because of tumor-specific mutations caused by DNA damage are attractive targets for the immune system because central tolerance is lacking due to the tumor-restrictive nature.
To study this, the group of Pia Kvistborg, NKI Amsterdam used a high-throughput screening platform for antigen-specific T-cells. Twelve patients were followed, and neo-antigen specificity was found in ten of them. We now know the T-cell based immune systems generally responded well to neo-antigens generated by DNA damage, and this response is frequently found to be enhanced upon immunotherapies like anti-CTLA-4, anti-PD-1, and TIL therapy.
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