Checkpoint inhibitors can help anti-cancer T cells stay active and have been effective against multiple human cancers. However, other factors can still suppress anti-tumor T cell responses and protect tumors from elimination, so Dr. Owens is targeting a protein that appears to block anti-cancer T cell activity. He’s shown that this protein inhibits further anti-cancer T cell activity during ongoing immune responses, and now he’s identifying how it affects pro-cancer regulatory T cells (Tregs). He demonstrated that disabling this protein decreased skin tumor growth and protected against breast tumor formation. Furthermore, it decreased pro-cancer Tregs and increased anti-cancer T cells in these tumors. Dr. Owens is now testing a drug that inhibits production of this protein in mice. Hopefully, this will reveal alternative strategies to potentially improve immunotherapy for patients.
The overarching goal of our work is to identify and validate novel anti-tumor immunity targets and resultant therapies that allow for appropriate levels of anti-tumor T cell responses with minimal collateral damage to normal tissue.
Projects and Grants
Therapeutic targeting of intrinsic T cell suppression during anti-tumor immunity
Columbia University Medical Center | Melanoma | 2015
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