In cancer treatment, immunotherapy helps the patient’s immune system fight cancer, for example through better recognition of the cancer cells, and it has proven effective in various types of cancer.
T-cells play a central role in eliminating tumors and are the major target for cancer immunotherapies. Hematological cancers, however, present with a limited number of cancer-specific T-cells compared to solid tumors, which is why immunotherapy has not previously been efficient against hematological cancers.
An additional reservoir of cancer-specific T-cells
A research team headed by Professor Sine Reker Hadrup, DTU Health Tech, now show that T-cell antigens derived from human endogenous retroviruses (HERVs) in patients with hematological malignancies can be used as an alternative source of cancer-specific antigens potentially targeted for cancer immunotherapies.
“Our study show large-scale activation of HERVs in hematological cancers and the T-cells of the immune system specifically recognize antigens derived from such HERVs. We believe that our finding of HERV-specific T-cells may have substantial therapeutic implication, as this provides an additional reservoir of cancer-specific T cells that can be targeted by ongoing immunotherapy approaches”, Assistant Professor Sunil Kumar Saini says.
Professor Sine Reker concludes: “We need to examine HERV-derived T cell recognition in more detail in immunotherapy treatment combinations to determine the direct impact of T-cell recognition of HERV-derived antigens on tumor regression. But with these results, we are a step further towards developing new immunotherapy approaches.”
Sunil Kumar Saini et al. Human endogenous retroviruses form a reservoir of T cell targets in hematological cancers, Nature Communications (2020). DOI: 10.1038/s41467-020-19464-8
Technical University of Denmark
A step forward toward immunotherapy for hematological cancers (2020, December 15)
retrieved 15 December 2020
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