In 2018, the number of deaths worldwide due to cancers was 9.6 million and it is estimated that 1 in 2 people in the UK will be diagnosed with cancer in their lifetime  . With such high stakes, researchers are striving to find reliable and effective treatments for the many types of cancers. Traditional forms of cancer treatment such as radiotherapy, chemotherapy and invasive surgery, are painful and have unpleasant side-effects. Additionally, these treatments are not 100% effective and can often destroy as many healthy cells as cancerous ones.
Probably the most promising development in cancer therapy in the past two decades is immunotherapy, which uses the body’s own natural defence, the immune system, to destroy cancer cells. Cancer immunotherapy, or “immuno-oncology”, research has grown exponentially in the past 5 years (Fig. 1) and the promise of personalised, targeted therapies is closer than ever.
Cancer cells are experts at evading the immune system, which is why they are able to grow and spread so easily. Cancer immunotherapy is based on boosting or restoring the patient’s immune system either by marking the cancer cells to make it easier for the immune system to find and destroy them, or by increasing the immune system’s response to the cancer cells.
A significant advantage of immuno-oncology therapies is that they are not toxic to the patient since they boosts the patient’s own immune system rather than using harmful chemicals or surgery. However, cancer immunotherapy is not without risks, which include inflammation, severe allergic reactions or life-threatening high fever. In order to avoid such dangerous effects, treatment strategies that are specific to individual patients are being developed. One such personalised treatment reported a regression of metastatic breast cancer over almost 2 years, and several other clinical trials involving personalised immune-related therapies are ongoing, aiming to treat pancreatic, kidney, prostate and esophageal cancers, among others.  
To assist our customers with navigating the latest immuno-oncology research, at SciBite we’ve created the Immunonc vocabulary, which comprises the concepts relating to this field. The vocabulary was manually curated by studying the latest developments in cancer immunotherapy research – from both scientific articles and pharmaceutical company literature – pinpointing the key phrases and techniques that define the field and subsequently enriching with synonyms.
The vocabulary contains terms that are more established in the field, e.g. “bispecific T-cell engagers”, a class of artificial monoclonal antibodies used to direct the patient’s immune cells to destroy tumor cells, and those that are cutting-edge, e.g. “synergistic immuno photothermal nanotherapy”, or SYMPHONY, which simultaneously disables a tumor’s immune resistance and destroys the cancer cells.  
Using the Immunonc vocabulary in our semantic search application, DOCstore, it is straightforward to discover documents from the scientific literature or medical news outlets that are directly related to immuno-oncology research (Fig. 2), enabling the user to gain useful insights from this research (Fig. 3). As further progress is made in immuno-oncological research and new therapies and techniques emerge, the Immunonc vocabulary will be extended.
By providing this capability, we hope to enable our customers to be better informed about the current advances and emerging trends in cancer immunotherapy research, keeping them at the forefront of cancer treatment.
To find out more about our Immunonc vocabulary, simple get in touch with the SciBite team.
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