gp96, the Immune System’s Swiss Army Knife*


The heat shock protein, gp96, is present in all human cells, and when released, it activates the T-cell arm of the immune system against unrecognized, foreign antigens.

gp96 serves as an adjuvant, or immune stimulator, that simultaneously boosts the immune system and alerts it to harmful pathogens. It is among the most powerful adjuvants found in the body, and is the only immune stimulator that shows exclusive specificity to CD8+ “killer” T-cells. It is known for providing long-term immunity against infectious agents through tumor rejection.

  • gp96 is typically found within the cell’s endoplasmic reticulum, and facilitates the folding of newly synthesized proteins so they can properly perform their various tasks. When a cell abnormally dies through necrosis or disease, gp96 is naturally released into the surrounding tissues, causing damage to other cells.
  • gp96 plays a critical role in the mechanism of Heat’s immuno-therapies and T-cell activating platforms. It helps stimulate the immune system and alert it to the presence of harmful pathogens; and activates a T-cell response against tumors associated with the cancer.
  • Our technology is designed to reprogram live cancer cells to continually secrete their own mutated cancer antigens bound to the heat shock protein, gp96. This enables living cancer cells to release their own surface antigens along with their gp96 chaperone, mimicking necrotic cell death and activating a powerful T-cell immune response.

What is a heat shock protein?

Heat shock proteins (HSPs) are common in the body, and play a role in assembling and transporting proteins between cell compartments, and repairing misfolded proteins during times of stress. They have been shown to be effective at preventing cancer development and growth. As the body’s immune response stimulator, gp96 assists Heat’s therapies in tumor rejection by delivering multiple, mutated tumor proteins to immune cells.

*Schild H., Rammensee H. gp96-The immune system’s Swiss army knife. Nature Immunol. 1, 100-101 (2000).