Augmenting adaptive immunity: progress and challenges in the quantitative engineering and analysis of adaptive immune receptor repertoires
The adaptive immune system is a natural diagnostic sensor and therapeutic. It recognizes threats earlier than clinical symptoms manifest and neutralizes antigens with exquisite specificity. Recognition specificity and broad reactivity are enabled via adaptive B- and T-cell receptors: the immune receptor repertoire. The human immune system, however, is not omnipotent. Our natural defense system sometimes loses the battle to parasites and microbes and even turns against us in the case of cancer and (autoimmune) inflammatory disease. A long-standing dream of immunoengineers has been, therefore, to mechanistically understand how the immune system “sees”, “reacts” and “remembers” (auto)antigens. Only very recently, experimental and computational methods have achieved sufficient quantitative resolution to start querying and engineering adaptive immunity with high precision. Specifically, these innovations have been applied with the greatest fervency and success in immunotherapy, autoimmunity and vaccine design. The work here highlights advances, challenges and future directions of quantitative approaches which seek to advance the fundamental understanding of immunological phenomena, and reverse engineer the immune system to produce auspicious biopharmaceutical drugs and immunodiagnostics. Our review shows how the merger of fundamental immunology, computational immunology and (digital) biotechnology advances both immunological knowledge and immunoengineering methodologies.
- This article is part of the themed collection: Engineering immunity with quantitative tools