Dendritic cells are essential for the well-functioning of our immune system since they are capable of recognizing and eliminating pathogens.
As soon as the presence of a pathogen is noticed, dendritic cells are activated and start to produce cytokines and chemokines. Cytokines are molecules that produce an inflammatory response by altering transcription; they act on non-immune cells. Chemokines induce cell movement and attract immune cells to the site of infection.
In addition, dendritic cells will absorb the pathogens that are present in the body. They will then present the antigens of these pathogens on the outer surface of their cell membranes. For this reason, dendritic cells are also named antigen-presenting cells (APCs). Upon absorption of a pathogen, dendritic cells migrate through the lymph vessels towards the lymph nodes. Here, they present antigens to naive (i.e. not yet activated) T-cells – CD4 and CD8 T-cells. The presentation of antigens induces the proliferation of these CD4/CD8 T-cells to mature helper T-cells. That process will activate and promote the immune system and will ultimately lead to the creation of a population of T-cells that is adequately large for destroying cancer cells and/or pathogens
The molecular identification of human cancer-specific antigens has made it possible to develop antigen-specific immunotherapy, which did, however, not yield any convincing clinical results.
At eTheRNA, we believe in combining technology that uses dendritic cells as a mediator to boost the maturation, activation and licensing of T-cells with disease-specific antigens.