Dendritic Cell Therapy

Reprogram your immune system to fight cancer

Dendritic cells are critical for the success of immunotherapy and are a particularly interesting target given their ability to uptake ad present tumor associated antigens (TAAs). Not only do they present antigens, but they also migrate between lymphoid and non-lymphoid tissues to control inflammation and lymphocyte homing all of which are likely important for systemic and long lasting anti-tumor effects. 

What are Dendritic Cells?

Dendritic cells (DCs), are found on body surfaces, such as airway and the gut. They are named for their probing, “tree-like” or dendritic shapes, are responsible for the initiation of adaptive immune responses and hence function as the “sentinel” of the immune system. DCs are bone marrow derived leukocytes and are the most potent type of antigen-presenting cells.

History of Dendritic Cells

Dendritic cells, discovered in 1973 by the late Ralph Steinman, are the major antigen-presenting cells in the body, which, once activated, present antigens to CD4+ and CBD+ T cells and induce protective T cell responses. If a cancer-specific antigen is presented, this can result in an anti-tumor response. As T cell-responses are indeed crucial for eliciting an immune repose against cancers, dendritic cells have long been suggested as potential cell-based vaccines. In the 1990s researchers developed the concept of leading, or “pulsing” dendritic cells ex vivo with tumor specific antigens. 

How does it work?

Dendritic cells can capture antigens that enter the body, and then they move to the T cell areas of lymphoid organs to find the right clones and start the immune response.  DCs have a battery of uptake receptors to capture antigens in a specific and efficient way: absorptive endocytosis.

After capture, they process and present these antigens primarily as peptide-major histocompatibility complies (MBH) complexes.

These two features of localization and presentation allow dendritic cells to harness the repertoire of T cell clones in a specific way. DCs also are very sensitive to environmental stimuli- not only microbial stimuli but also a number of endogenous stimuli, called alarming.  

In response to these stimuli, they undergo differentiation, which is called maturation because it is terminal even in dendritic cell development.  

Finally, dendritic cells have many forms, called subsets, each with distinct receptors for antigen uptake and response to various stimuli. The features of maturation and subset allow dendritic cells to dictate the type of response that the repertoire will carry out.

How is it Administered?

Dendritic cell vaccine is administered intravenously. Blood and urine samples are taken to the lab. Dendritic cells are isolated and exposed to proteins from the patients cancer cells in order to activate T-lymphocytes. These lymphocytes are grown in bio reactors to be infused intravenously.


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