The clinical efficacy of checkpoint immunotherapy is still limited to a minority of patients, likely because cancers enforce multifaceted resistance mechanisms. In this context, pancreatic cancer represents a devastating disease in which immunotherapy does not work. The immune suppressive pancreatic cancer microenvironment, mainly enforced by myeloid and fibrotic cell infiltration, can turn off the adaptive arms of the immune response, including killer T cells.
Dr. Bronte’s studies shed light on a new class of proteins involved in T cell homing and retention within the tumor core. By comparing “cold” and “hot” pancreatic cancers, he unveiled a role of a tight junction protein as a forerunner of unique cancer suppressors that shape the anti-tumor immune response. Now, the aim of Bronte’s work is to identify the protein binding partner(s) on T cells, characterize the functional consequences of this interaction on both tumor and immune cells, and explore approaches to heat “cold” tumors and thus offer novel immunotherapy solutions for patients with pancreatic cancer.
Projects and Grants
CHARON: Claudins Help the Arrest of Cytotoxic T Lymphocytes in Tumors Improving Immunotherapy
Universita di Verona (Italy) | Pancreatic Cancer | 2020
Neutralizing human arginase to enhance cancer immunotherapy
Universita di Verona (Italy) | All Cancers, Breast Cancer, Pancreatic Cancer | 2017
Interrupting the nitrosative stress fuels tumor-specific cytotoxic T lymphocytes in pancreatic cancer
Francesco De Sanctis et al | Journal for ImmunoTherapy of Cancer | 2022 | DOI
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