Our Science

Our Science

How We Break Through

Our team is on a mission to deliver transformative outcomes for people with cancer by breaking through the frontiers of immuno-oncology research.

We seek to substantially increase response rates, response quality and durability, and long-term survival through the unique Surface approach to our research.



  • The knowledge and experience of our world-class scientific advisors informs every part of our work through a uniquely collaborative process that emphasizes collective learning.


  • We prioritize versatility and use multiple proven platforms to characterize new therapeutic antibody candidates and inform rapid decision-making to the benefit of our overall development portfolio.
  • Each new insight is a valuable opportunity to refine our approach and apply insights to identify new biology and bring forward increasingly optimized therapeutic antibody candidates.


  • Cancer acts to suppress both innate and adaptive immune activity, so the Surface team focuses on candidates designed to impact both arms of the immune response.

Our Scientific Focus

First-generation immunotherapies have delivered exciting results for a minority of patients with certain cancers. But most patients do not benefit or achieve a durable response from these therapies.

The reason for this shortcoming is that tumors can suppress multiple processes and specialized cells the immune system would normally engage to attack them. Therefore, re-activating a single immune mechanism may not adequately address a tumor’s broad immunosuppressive activity. Some of the key cells and agents responsible for this immunosuppression are:


Immune-suppressive metabolites and cytokines are soluble factors secreted by cells within the tumor, creating a “smog” that prevents the immune system from attacking tumor cells. Our therapies directly neutralize these factors, resulting in the activation of immune cells including effector T cells, natural killer cells, and antigen-presenting cells.



Macrophages and myeloid-suppressor cells are specialized innate immune cells that engulf and eliminate tumor cells through a process called phagocytosis. Besides the direct elimination of tumor cells, phagocytosis leads to increased antigen-presentation and activation of the adaptive immune response. Macrophage-secreted cytokines are also critical to sustain the immune response. We are targeting multiple macrophage checkpoints to stimulate tumor cell phagocytosis and to activate the patient’s immune response to fight cancer.


Regulatory T cells

Regulatory T (Treg) cells suppress the immune response of effector T cells. Increased numbers of Treg cells is associated with poor survival in several tumor types. Surface Oncology is developing medicines that selectively inhibit and/or deplete Treg cells in the tumor in order to reactivate the patient’s immune response to fight cancer.

Regulatory T cell

Natural Killer Cells

Natural killer (NK) cells are critical for immune surveillance against cancer, and their function is governed by a balance between activating and inhibitory signals. Surface Oncology is developing medicines that block the inhibitory signals, increasing the production of stimulatory cytokines, and promoting direct tumor cell killing by NK cells.

Natural Killer Cell