Adenosine triphosphate, otherwise known as ATP, is a vital source of energy for our cells, but when its improperly detected outside of cells it acts as a “danger” signal. One place where extracellular ATP (eATP) is found at high levels is within tumors, where it is sensed by immune cells via the P2RX7 receptor. Dr. Borges da Silva’s team recently discovered that this axis activates several important immune pathways and is also important for the generation and survival of long-lived, memory “killer” T cells. In light of that, he’s now exploring how this eATP sensing influences the function and homeostasis of T cells within tumors, and how this pathway might be controlled to harness their power more effectively.
Specifically, the goals of his current project are to determine (a) to gauge whether eATP/N2RX7 activity can prime T cells before they infiltrate tumors, (b) to determine the source of the high levels of eATP found within tumors, and (c) to develop an approach that combines P2RX7/eATP activation along with inhibition of eATP degradation. Overall, Borges da Silva hopes his investigations lead to a new strategy that could potentially synergize with current cancer immunotherapies and improve patient outcomes.
Projects and Grants
Harnessing CD8+ T Cell antitumor responses by manipulating extracellular ATP signaling
| All Cancers | 2018 | Stephen C. Jameson, Ph.D.
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