TECH Study reveals clues to improve cancer immunotherapy


Study reveals clues to improve cancer immunotherapy


07:44, October 25, 2019

cancer cgtn.jpg

(Photo: CGTN)

CHICAGO, Oct. 24 (Xinhua) -- A study by researchers at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis suggests that recruiting other T cells, called helper T cells, besides killer T cells could boost the effectiveness of immune therapy, as helper T cells are involved in recognizing cancer as a threat and recruiting killer T cells to mount an attack.

Studying mice with models of human cancer, the researchers showed that immune checkpoint therapy is more effective when helper T cells are activated along with killer T cells. They further showed that vaccines also are more effective when targets activating both helper and killer T cells are present.

"Just because a killer T cell is present doesn't mean it's actively killing tumor cells," said first author Elise Alspach, a postdoctoral research associate at the university. "We found that not only do you need helper T cells to recruit the killer T cells, the helper cells need to be there to coax the killer T cells to mature into an active state in which they are capable of killing cells."

And finally, the most effective anti-tumor responses occurred when immune checkpoint therapy was combined with a vaccine that incorporates targets for helper and killer T cells that are specific to antigens in the patient's tumor.

The researchers have developed a computer program that can predict which mutant proteins, or antigens, on a patient's tumor will specifically activate helper T cells.

"The idea of giving checkpoint inhibitors along with a tumor-specific vaccine, especially a vaccine that activates both killer and helper T cells, is just beginning," said senior author Robert D. Schreiber, a distinguished professor at the university. "But based on our study, the combination is likely to be more effective than any of the components alone. Today, when we treat a particular tumor type with checkpoint inhibitors, maybe 20 percent of the patients respond well. We're hoping that with a vaccine plus checkpoint inhibitors, the number of patients who respond well will go up to 60 or 70 percent."

The study was published on Wednesday in the journal Nature.

Terms of Service & Privacy Policy

We have updated our privacy policy to comply with the latest laws and regulations. The updated policy explains the mechanism of how we collect and treat your personal data. You can learn more about the rights you have by reading our terms of service. Please read them carefully. By clicking AGREE, you indicate that you have read and agreed to our privacy policies

Agree and continue