T cell receptors are among the most specific biological structures found in nature and are therefore excellent candidates for the molecular targeting of antigen. It is becoming increasingly apparent that common sets of T cell receptors are frequently used in humans to combat pathogen and cancer derived threats. Given that many of these conserved T cell receptors have high affinity for their target ligands, there is potential to amass virtual banks of off-the-shelf receptors for use in a wide range of immunotherapeutic strategies. Additionally, such T cell receptors could become basic blueprints for artificial enhancement through mutagenesis, thereby creating an even better 3-dimensional fit for their cognate targets. Indeed, preliminary approaches using both natural and supernatural T cell receptors have shown promise in treating autoimmunity and malignancy. This review will discuss these studies and other approaches through which T cell receptors can be exploited in immunodiagnostics, pathogen control and gene therapy.
Keywords: T cell receptor, immunotherapy, major histocompatibility complex, human leucocyte antigens
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