Immune hematology

The research demonstrating advancement in detection of a certain type of immune cells, called T cells. Improved detection of T cells have several therapeutic implications. For example; in cancer immunotherapy (a therapeutic approach that engage patients own immune cells) ; therefore characterization of T cells that recognize cancer cells is crucial for tailoring personalized treatment strategies. But T cells are white blood cells of the immune system that have amazing properties: they can detect cancer cells and virus-infected cells in the body, and they even attack and eliminate these.

The immune system

This is why T cells constitute an essential part of the immune response; which patients mount; against tumors and viruses. When applying immunotherapy an immune response against a tumor takes place; the tumor-fighting T cells in the blood of the patient multiply. To find out how well the immunotherapy is working, scientists and doctors want to check how many tumor-specific T cells a patient has mounted. The tumor-specific T cells are identify by their specific T cell receptor using a colored reagent called an MHC tetramer.

Using this reagent, the tumor-specific T cells become visible and can be counted under the microscope or in a high-throughput machine called a flow cytometer. “Of course, that created big problems if they had a sick patient they wanted to diagnose; or if they were following a really urgent scientific project. The problem was that every MHC protein contains a little piece of a tumor or virus called a peptide, which varies from one patient to the other, and without the peptide; the MHC protein was unstable and perished quickly; even if it was kept in the fridge, thereby destroying the MHC tetramer.”

The tumor-specific T cells

It is the development and use of a super-stable form of the MHC tetramer reagents that professor Sine Reker Hadrup, DTU Health Technology, and her collaborators at the Jacobs University Bremen in Germany, led by Prof. Sebastian Springer has published in Science Immunology. Hadrup and Springer have now co-founded a company named Tetramer Shop to produce and sell this innovative MHC tetramer reagent.

The company has already seen significant interest, in its MHC tetramer reagents; from academia and pharma working on T cell immunotherapy as well as from various diagnostic platform companies. Furthermore; Hadrup and Springer believes that the stabilized form of the MHC protein holds great promise within a new field of personalized T cell therapy; termed precision activated cell therapy, where patients own tumor-specific T cells, in a personalized protocol; are isolated and activated before being used as the therapeutic product.