The Current issue of “The view from here” is concerned with Immunotherapies

The topic of this month’s newsletter from Drug Discovery Today is “Immunotherapies”.

I guess that it is open to a level of debate, but I feel one of the fastest-moving and most important developments in the last 10 years has been the appearance, honing and adoption of immunotherapeutics. Perhaps a field finding its most dramatic and clinically-important applications in oncology, there are many other areas in which this technology is beginning to exert an impact. Given the exponential increase in the number of publications in immune approaches to the treatment of disease, it is not inappropriate to select this subject as the topic for the November issue of Drug Discovery Today – Editor’s Choice. I’ve tried to select the articles for this mailing to reflect the breadth of impact of the field, although this is a somewhat thankless task, given that I have only 3 articles to achieve this. The reviews cover the development of novel proteins capable of modulating immune response, their structure and molecular mechanisms in oncology. The second deals with the use of well-established and researched receptors and how they might be capable of treating autoimmune disease. Finally, I present an article discussing how modulation of intracellular signaling in NK cells could be harnessed in HIV immunotherapy.

The first offering, as mentioned above, is “Fungal immunomodulatory proteins: characteristic, potential antitumor activities and their molecular mechanisms” from Qi-Zhang Li, Yu-Zhang Zheng and Xuan-Wei Zhou who present a commentary on Fungal immunomodulatory proteins (FIPs). Although these small (~13kDa) proteins have been researched in depth for a number of years it is only now that these molecules are becoming interesting adjuvants for cancer immunotherapeutic approaches. 
The second article from this month’s selection visits a tried and tested receptor, the cannabinoid receptor, and proposes that this receptor may represent a promising target for the treatment of autoimmune diseases. The paper, from Elaine D. Gonçalves and Rafael C. Dutra of The Federal University of Santa Catarina, Brazil, entitled: “Cannabinoid receptors as therapeutic targets for autoimmune diseases: where do we stand?” The authors propose that cannabinoid receptors CB1 and CB2 are essential for both innate and adaptive immune responses and that the endocannabinoid system is implicated in autoimmune disease. They summarise those mechanisms by which such modulation of immune response is achieved. Similarly they outline how this can have a favourable effect on the symptoms of various autoimmune diseases such as Multiple Sclerosis, Type I Diabetes and Rheumatoid Arthritis. They propose that CB2 receptor agonists may represent a novel weapon in the armoury of therapies for autoimmune disease.
The third article in this month’s offering represents a more cell biological approach to the treatment of disease. Entitled “Optimizing intracellular signaling domains for CAR NK cells in HIV immunotherapy: a comprehensive review” the authors Giorgio Zenere,  Omalla Allan Olwenyi,  Siddappa N. Byrareddy and Stephen E. Braun present a commentary on how Natural Killer (NK) cells become dysregulated as a result of HIV infection. Through the use of CAR strategies, they outline how it is possible to enhance both T cell and NK cell response against HIV-infected cells. They point out, however, that differences in signal transduction between the cell types results in a less than optimal response. Understanding of these differences should allow for a more effective design of NK-specific CAR approaches to treatment.
Steve Carney was born in Liverpool, England and studied Biochemistry at Liverpool University, obtaining a BSc.(Hons) and then read for a PhD on the Biochemistry and Pathology of Connective Tissue Diseases in Manchester University, in the Departments of Medical Biochemistry and Histopathology. On completion of his PhD he moved to the Kennedy Institute of Rheumatology, London, where he worked with Professor Helen Muir FRS and Professor Tim Hardingham, on the biochemistry of experimental Osteoarthritis. He joined Eli Lilly and Co. and held a number of positions in Biology R&D, initially in the Connective Tissue Department, but latterly in the Neuroscience Department. He left Lilly to take up his present position as Managing Editor, Drug Discovery Today, at Elsevier. Currently, he also holds an honorary lectureship in Drug Discovery at the University of Surrey, UK. He has authored over 50 articles in peer-reviewed journals, written several book chapters and has held a number of patents.

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