Harnessing Innate Immunity in Cancer Treatment | Takeda Oncology
Our Approach to Harnessing Innate Immunity
The power of the immune system to fight disease has intrigued scientists for centuries, but we have only scratched the surface of what is possible when we harness its power to fight cancer.
The immune system is made up of two arms – the innate and adaptive immune systems. They work together to address threats in the body, including cancers, with responses that are either immediate and generalized (innate) or launched in response to specific, recognized enemies (adaptive).
Most immunotherapies leverage adaptive immunity, but adaptive immune responses are hyper-specific and alone may not be able to overcome evasive mutations or defenses in cancers. The innate immune system, through continued engagement, has the power to activate both innate and downstream adaptive immune responses.
At Takeda Oncology, we aim to introduce new classes of immunotherapies that that can enhance innate immunity and deploy both arms of the immune system to produce deep, durable responses in patients.
Learn more about the role innate immunity plays in the cancer immunity cycle below.
Frequently Asked Questions
The innate immune system addresses threats in the body, including cancer, with responses that are immediate and generalized by an arsenal of cell types, including dendritic cells, macrophages, specialized innate γδT cells and NK cells. The adaptive immune system relies on antigen presenting cells, B cells and most other T cells, to launch specific responses to recognize and destroy threats.
Most immunotherapies leverage adaptive immunity, but more can be done to leverage innate immunity to address threats such as cancer.
New studies indicate there is potential to broaden the impact of immunotherapies by activating the innate immune system to attack cancer directly or as a bridge to activate the adaptive immune system.1-2 For example, some innate cells, such as NK cells, can kill cancer cells directly, while releasing soluble factors that activate other parts of the immune system. This illustrates how the innate immune system plays an orchestration role in driving the cancer immunity cycle by mobilizing cells to the tumor site, activating cells to kill tumor cells in a specific manner and conditioning the microenvironment to further drive anti-tumor activity.1 Chang RB, Beatty GL. The interplay between innate and adaptive immunity in cancer shapes the productivity of cancer immunosurveillance. J Leukoc Biol. 2020;108(1):363-376. doi:10.1002/JLB.3MIR0320-475R2 Hartl CA, Bertschi A, Puerto RB, et al. Combination therapy targeting both innate and adaptive immunity improves survival in a pre-clinical model of ovarian cancer. J Immunother Cancer. 2019;7(1):199. Published 2019 Jul 30. doi:10.1186/s40425-019-0654-5
Today, researchers are exploring the potential of the innate immune system to fight cancer through the development of investigational therapies that harness innate immunity. Researchers at Takeda Oncology are exploring this emerging science through multiple immunotherapy programs and platforms that seek to address the needs of people living with cancer.
By harnessing innate immunity, which helps to drive adaptive immunity, researchers aim to enhance a powerful immune defense mechanism that achieves a robust and durable attack on cancer.