Methods to monitor and manipulate the immune system are of enormous clinical interest. For example, the development of vaccines represents one of the earliest and greatest accomplishments of the biomedical research enterprise. More recently, drugs capable of "reawakening" the immune system to cancer have generated enormous excitement. But, much remains to be done. All drugs available today that manipulate the immune system cannot distinguish between "good" and "bad" immune responses and thus drive general and systemic immune suppression or activation. Indeed, with the notable exception of vaccines, our ability to monitor and manipulate antigen-specific immune responses is in its infancy. Achieving this finer level of control would be highly desirable. For example, it might allow the pharmacological editing of pathogenic immune responses without restricting the ability of the immune system to defend against infection. On the diagnostic side, a method to comprehensively monitor the circulating, antigen-specific antibody population could provide a treasure trove of clinically useful biomarkers, since many diseases expose the immune system to characteristic molecules that are deemed foreign and elicit the production of antibodies against them. This Perspective will discuss the state-of-the-art of this area with a focus on what we consider seminal opportunities for the chemistry community to contribute to this important field.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
Work in the Kodadek laboratory described in this Perspective was supported by the National Institutes of Health (DP3 DK094309-01), the Fidelity Foundation, the Goodman Family Foundation, the DARPA Fold F(X) program (N66001-14-2- 4057), and Opko Inc. We are grateful to Prof. M. Disney (TSRI) for a critical reading of this manuscript.
© 2016 American Chemical Society.