Engaging the innate immune system to fight cancer effectively

Most therapeutic approaches in immuno-oncology focus on targeting the adaptive immune system; innate immunity has only recently gathered momentum. One of the most potent receptors for activating innate immune cells such as natural killer cells and macrophages is CD16A. Addressing this target mimics the body’s natural defense against potential threats, resulting in a cascade of defence mechanisms. German biotech Affimed developed a versatile bispecific antibody technology platform, providing a cleverly engineered solution to activate CD16A and harness natural killer cells and macrophages against cancer. Here, Arndt Schottelius, CSO of Affimed, shares insights on unleashing the potential of the innate immune system.

ESTABLISHED TUMOURS successfully suppress the body’s immune response. Newly developed cancer immunotherapies have been instrumental in making cancer vulnerable and supporting the body’s immune system in recognising cancer cells, especially for the treatment of haematological cancers. In 2013, early successes led Science magazine to call cancer immunotherapy the “Breakthrough of the Year.” However, almost ten years later many cancer indications are still lacking effective immunotherapies – and certain approved therapies fail to help every patient. At this stage, the common perception in the field is that single-agent immunotherapies are simply not enough.1 While a plethora of combination therapies are being researched in clinical studies, well-founded rationales for which therapies to combine in which patients are urgently needed.