Our immunotherapy products and protocols are designed to modulate the immune system. Our immunomonitoring program has a focus on monitoring the changes that occur in Th1/Th2 cell balance along the immune cascade leading to disease eradication. The human immune system is a complex natural defense mechanism. It has the ability to learn about foreign substances (pathogens) that enter the body and to respond to them by producing antibodies or alternatively by educating killer T-cells that can attack the antigens associated with the pathogen. Ultimately, the immune response removes the infection from the body. Different types of infection require different types of immune response in order to be cleared. The type of immune response, antibody or killer cell, is controlled by helper cells. Th1 helper cells mediate a killer cell response, while Th2 helper cells mediate an antibody response. Th2 antibody responses are most effective in clearing bacterial infections and parasites from the body, whereas Th1 responses are most effective in clearing cancer and viral infection.
Th1 and Th2 cells are maintained in a carefully regulated balance. If a bacteria enters the body it activates Th2 cells which dominate the network to orchestrate a cascade of immune events leading to an antibody response that clears the infection. If a virus enters cells in the body, it activates Th1 cells which dominate and orchestrate a killer cell response to clear infected cells.
Once the infection is cleared, suppressor cells are activated which shut down the dominate response and bring the network back into a resting state. If the suppressor cells do not act to bring the network back to a resting state, a pathological Th1-or Th2 dominated immune system results. A Th1 dominated immune system is characteristic of autoimmune diseases, such as multiple sclerosis and type I diabetes where the immune system is attacking normal tissues. A Th2-dominated immune system is characteristic of cancer patients where the killer cell response is suppressed or in patients with antibody-mediated diseases such as systemic lupus erythematosus due to antibody responses to normal tissue.
In order to develop effective treatments against cancer and HIV, it is necessary to modulate the existing immune response, rather than to enhance the existing response. Cancer and HIV patients generally present with dominant Th2 immune responses incapable of mediating clearance of the disease. Boosting the immune system of these patients only serves to enhance this failed response. Accordingly, it is necessary to develop a Th1 response in these patients and then selectively amplify this response so that it becomes dominant over the existing Th2 response.
Immunomonitoring capability is essential in developing immunotherapy products and methods for accomplishing the objective of immunomodulation.