The use of immunotherapies will most likely replace chemotherapy and radiation therapy for the treatment near all cancers over the next twenty years, and has already done so for many types of cancer. We should expect immunotherapies to in turn be replaced by approaches that target the telomere lengthening essential to all cancers. The wheel turns slowly, but this progress will lead steadily to an end to the suffering and loss of life accompanying cancer. Cancer will become a mild, annoying but controllable condition within a matter of decades, within the lifetimes of most of those reading this now. The review paper noted here looks over the state of T cell immunotherapies, a subset of the broader category that has seen growing success in the treatment of a range of different cancers.
T cells are critical in destroying cancer cells by recognizing antigens presented by MHC molecules on cancer cells or antigen-presenting cells. Identifying and targeting cancer-specific or overexpressed self-antigens is essential for redirecting T cells against tumors, leading to tumor regression. This is achieved through the identification of mutated or overexpressed self-proteins in cancer cells, which guide the recognition of cancer cells by T-cell receptors.
There are two main approaches to T cell-based immunotherapy: HLA-restricted and HLA-non-restricted immunotherapy. Significant progress has been made in T cell-based immunotherapy over the past decade, using naturally occurring or genetically engineered T cells to target cancer antigens in hematological malignancies and solid tumors. However, limited specificity, longevity, and toxicity have limited success rates.
This review provides an overview of T cells as a therapeutic tool for cancer, highlighting the advantages and future strategies for developing effective T cell cancer immunotherapy. The challenges associated with identifying T cells and their corresponding antigens, such as their low frequency, are also discussed. The review further examines the current state of T cell-based immunotherapy and potential future strategies, such as the use of combination therapy and the optimization of T cell properties, to overcome current limitations and improve clinical outcomes.