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To effectively protect the body from a wide variety of potential threats, the immune response must constantly adjust to target the unique characteristics of individual disease states. This flexibility and specificity are what define the adaptive immune system and provide the driving force behind protective immunity against cancer.
To take advantage of this adaptability, vaccines and immunotherapies attempt to activate and “educate” immune cells to recognize and eliminate cancer cells. This approach has already transformed cancer treatment by delivering therapies with great power to eradicate tumors while sparing healthy tissues. And while these successes have demonstrated the power of retargeting the immune system against cancer, first-generation therapeutics are distributed widely throughout the body via blood flow, allowing only limited interaction with immune cells that reside in the lymphatics.