Immunotherapy: Novel treatments redefine the fight against cancer

The potential of immunotherapy has sparked immense interest and investment in research, as it holds the promise of more effective and personalized cancer therapies. But what differentiates this type of therapy from others? Immunotherapy enhances or modifies the immune system’s natural ability to identify and eliminate cancer cells. Unlike traditional treatments like chemotherapy and radiation, which can indiscriminately damage healthy cells, immunotherapy aims to selectively target and eliminate cancer cells while minimizing harm to the patient.

The impact of immunotherapy research is already being felt in pre-clinical and clinical settings. Immunotherapeutic agents, such as checkpoint inhibitors and CAR T cell therapies, have demonstrated remarkable success in treating various types of cancer, including melanoma, lung cancer, and certain blood cancers.

These breakthroughs have not only improved patient outcomes but have also opened new avenues for further innovation. New assays keep emerging to support expansion of immunotherapy applications and identification of new targets. Recently, impedance assays demonstrated an easier path, free of labeling, free of toxic compounds or a need for cell modification. One question automatically comes to mind: What makes these assays relevant?

The key principle behind impedance-based assays for immunotherapy research is the detection of changes in the growth and viability of target cancer cells in response to immunotherapy treatments, label-free and in real time. The assay uses gold microelectrodes embedded in the bottom of cell culture wells to measure the impedance, or resistance to the flow of an electric current, caused by the presence of adherent target cancer cells. As the target cancer cells grow and proliferate, the impedance signal measured by the electrodes increases. Conversely, if effector immune cells (like T cells) kill the target cancer cells, the impedance will decrease.

Moreover, the impedance-based approach provides insights into the kinetics and potency of the immune cell-mediated killing of cancer cells, which is crucial for evaluating and optimizing immunotherapy products. This assay leverages the ability to continuously monitor changes in target cell status as a proxy for the efficacy of immunotherapies, enabling a more dynamic and label-free assessment compared to traditional endpoint assays.

The potential of immunotherapy extends beyond cancer treatment, with its use being seen in other disease areas, such as autoimmune disorders and infectious diseases.  Thus, the significance of an assay capable of assessing the kinetics of adoptive cell therapies in real-time, devoid of dyes, labels, or probes, cannot be overstated. Such an assay offers invaluable insights into cellular interactions without compromising biological activity, ultimately aiding in the development of more effective, targeted, and personalized treatments.