Checkpoint immunotherapy, especially those targeting the PD-1/PD-L1 pathway on T cells, have provided remarkable benefits for patients with a number of types of advanced cancer. However, in most patients these treatments still don’t lead to long-term benefits, and more must be understood about their precise mechanisms. For one, it’s still not known which specific subtype of T cells on which these immunotherapies work.
Therefore, Dr. Zhang will be investigating a special group of T cells that have stem cell-like properties and were identified in patients characterized as “super responders” after being treated with immunotherapy. Interestingly, Zhang recently identified a “brake” on these special T cells that is involved in interactions with cells known as stromal cells. Now, he aims to investigate whether this population of stromal cells is involved in shutting down these stem cell-like T cells in a mouse model of melanoma, and will test whether blocking this molecular brake can unleash the T cells and improve the effectiveness of checkpoint immunotherapy.
Projects and Grants
The cellular mechanisms controlling PD-1 blockade-responding CD8 T cells
University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio | All Cancers | 2019
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