The majority of cancers develop in epithelial tissues that form the outer layer of our body. These tissues also harbor immune cells called intraepithelial lymphocytes (IELs) that continually scan the surrounding area and initiate protective immune responses against any perceived threats, including cancer. While IELs offer many potential benefits over existing T cells when it comes to their use in immunotherapy, we still lack basic information about how they identify the difference between normal and cancerous tissue.
Therefore, Dr. McKenzie aims to resolve this longstanding question of how IELs sense early signs of cancer at the molecular level in mice. By testing a novel hypothesis of how epidermal IELs may be activated, which will guide these experiments from a new viewpoint, McKenzie aims to improve our understanding of the fundamental molecular processes of cancer immunosurveillance. Overall, identifying the mechanisms that underlie IEL surveillance of cancer has great potential to profoundly benefit the design and application of emerging immunotherapies utilizing these unconventional immune cell populations.
Projects and Grants
The molecular basis of epidermal cancer immunosurveillance
The Francis Crick Institute (England) | All Cancers | 2019 | Adrian Hayday, Ph.D.
Normality sensing licenses local T cells for innate-like tissue surveillance
Duncan R. McKenzie et al | Nature Immunology | 2022 | DOI
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