Study of T-cell behavior predicts therapeutic differences in cancer outcomes

By The Science Advisory Board staff writers

May 10, 2022 -- Dr. Niroshana Anandasabapathy and fellow researchers at Weill Cornell Medicine have published a study in Cancer Cell revealing a novel insight on the role of T cells in cancer therapies. The study focused on comparing the differences in behaviors of T cells in immunotherapy for metastatic melanoma to treatment outcomes. Anandasabapathy's study revealed the presence of a varying activation response in T cells that correlates with patient survival outcomes.

Specifically, the study found that T cells which failed to progress past the early activation stage resulted in poorer health outcomes for cancer patients. On the other hand, T cells that expanded into memory T cells provided better clinical responses for patients. This unique finding challenges the previous assumption that clinical failures in T-cell therapy were due to the exhaustion of T cells. This assumption often prompted the use of immune checkpoint blockade therapy. However, this treatment method has historically demonstrated inconsistent efficacy in some patients.

By studying a series of genetic markers alongside various genomic analysis strategies, Anandasabapathy and her collaborators were able to newly categorize T cells based on their development trajectories. As a result of these new categories, the researchers found that immune checkpoint blockade was successful in the T cells that matured into long-lasting memory T cells.

In addition to T-cell identification, the study investigators are also researching methods to induce the maturation of T cells into memory T cells. Furthermore, the study results show that this same T-cell maturation difference likely contributes to patients' outcomes for T-cell therapies in kidney, prostate, bladder, and liver cancers.

From DNA to precision medicine, researchers discuss breakthroughs in cancer research
From the use of novel technologies such as machine learning and CRISPR, to gaining a deeper understanding of the genetic and molecular drivers of cancer,...

Copyright © 2022

Science Advisory Board on LinkedIn
Science Advisory Board on Facebook
Science Advisory Board on Twitter