The immune system performs the essential role of identifying ‘non-self’ materials in the body and fighting off infection. If an individual’s immune system is compromised, this can result in immunodeficiency (an inability to fight infection), autoimmunity (where the immune system identifies the body’s own cells as ‘non-self’ and destroys them, or inflammatory disease (where tissues become inflamed in the absence of any infectious agent). Immune conditions are a broad and diverse group of conditions. Some are congenital, genetic disorders, while others may develop later in life.
Immune conditions have been the target of some of the earliest successful gene and cell therapies. Certain immunodeficiencies have been treated with haematopoetic stem cells transplants (HSC transplants). The genetic condition Severe Combined Immunodeficiency Disorder (SCID) can successfully be treated using a hybrid gene-cell therapy.
Researchers are continuing to investigate both the cellular and genetic basis of these disorders. Scientists hope that improving our knowledge of these conditions will lead to more precise, personalised cell and gene therapies.