Improving Cancer Immunotherapy

Researchers at the GRU Cancer Center have discovered a way to give the immune system a boost in its ability to recognize tumor cells as “enemy” agents.  Cancer vaccines have been a growing field in cancer therapeutics, where the body’s immune system is used as a tool to target tumor cells.  However, unanticipated tumor defense systems have rendered vaccine-induced immune activation largely ineffective against established tumors.  Yukai He, MD, PhD, and his laboratory, with collaboration from Lei Huang, PhD, Andrew Mellor, PhD, David H. Munn, MD, and colleagues have been studying why – and they suspect the answer relates to inflammation. In a recent publication in The Journal of Immunology, they report their most recent results.  Suspecting that molecular signaling differs in acute inflammation versus the chronic inflammation that characterizes tumors, they show that generating an acute inflammatory response in the tumor itself rescues the ability of immune cells called tumor-infiltrating lymphocytes to initiate antitumor activity.  Furthermore, they demonstrate that this antitumor activity is dependent upon intact signaling by a class of proteins called type I interferons.  These results suggest the necessity of co-administration of type I interferon for increased efficacy of cancer vaccines.

[Xiao H, Peng Y, Hong Y, Huang L, Guo ZS, Bartlett DL, Fu N, Munn DH, Mellor, and He Y. Local administration of TLF ligands rescues the function of tumor-infiltrating CD8 T cells and enhances the antitumor effect of lentivector immunization. J Immunol. 2013 Jun 1; 190(11):5866-73.]


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Allison Brown
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Written by Allison Brown

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