FOUND: Essential genes for cancer immunotherapy

2017

Challenge

Although immunotherapy — a cancer treatment approach that uses the body’s immune system to attack cancer — has seen great success in the past few years, several challenges remain. One is understanding why some patients’ bodies respond positively to immunotherapy and others do not.

Advance

A study conducted by the IRP’s Nicholas Restifo, M.D., comprehensively identified human genes that are necessary in cancer cells for immunotherapy to work. The findings shed some insight into the problem of why some tumors do not respond to immunotherapy and why some respond initially but then stop as tumor cells develop resistance to immunotherapy.

Impact

The comprehensive identification of the genes that tumor cells rely on to escape immune control may guide the way to immunotherapies that work for more patients. Information generated from this study could serve as a blueprint to further decode the emergence of tumor resistance to T cell-based cancer therapies.

Publications

Patel SJ, Sanjana NE, Kishton RJ, Eidizadeh A, Vodnala SK, Cam M, Gartner JJ, Jia L, Steinberg SM, Yamamoto TN, Merchant AS, Mehta GU, Chichura A, Shalem O, Tran E, Eil R, Sukumar M, Guijarro EP, Day CP, Robbins P, Feldman S, Merlino G, Zhang F, Restifo NP. Identification of essential genes for cancer immunotherapy. (2017). Nature. 548(7669):537-542.