Skip to main content

Gene expression profile could enable rapid identification of anti-tumor immune cells for personalized immunotherapy

  • Posted:
Contact:
NCI Press Office

240-760-6600

Credit: National Human Genome Research Institute

What

National Institutes of Health researchers, led by Dr. Steven Rosenberg, M.D., Ph.D., chief of the Surgery Branch at the Center for Cancer Research, National Cancer Institute (NCI), have found unique expression profiles in 50 genes that help identify rare anti-tumor lymphocytes that can infiltrate and help defeat metastatic solid epithelial tumors. To develop these profiles, a highly sensitive assay was designed that identified tumor-infiltrating lymphocytes (TILs) with cell surface receptors that can recognize the products of the very mutations that caused the cancer. The identification of these lymphocytes could help advance the development and effectiveness of personalized cancer immunotherapies for patients whose cancers do not respond to standard treatments.

This finding in TILs is especially important because it is agnostic to the type of tumor a patient has--it seems to have promise in stomach, esophageal, ovarian, and breast cancers, among other types of tumors.

Until now, to maximize the potential of TIL therapy, Rosenberg’s team had to look at every potential mutation in a tumor that could be a target. But after years of effort, the team developed this new assay that identifies the gene expression profiles of a few rare lymphocytes that recognize mutated cell surface proteins of cancerous cells, thereby negating the need for a mutation-by-mutation search.

Dr. Rosenberg pioneered the development of cell-based immunotherapy, a highly personalized form of cancer treatment that uses a person’s own immune system to fight tumor cells. His studies of the adoptive transfer of genetically modified immune cells have resulted in tumor shrinkage in patients with metastatic cancer.

Who

Dr. Steven Rosenberg, M.D., Ph.D., chief of the Surgery Branch at the Center for Cancer Research, NCI, the study's lead author

The Study

“Molecular signatures of antitumor neoantigen-reactive T cells from metastatic human cancers” appeared in Science on Feb. 3, 2022.

About the National Cancer Institute (NCI): NCI leads the National Cancer Program and NIH’s efforts to dramatically reduce the prevalence of cancer and improve the lives of cancer patients and their families, through research into prevention and cancer biology, the development of new interventions, and the training and mentoring of new researchers. For more information about cancer, please visit the NCI website at cancer.gov or call NCI’s contact center, the Cancer Information Service, at 1-800-4-CANCER (1-800-422-6237).
 

About the National Institutes of Health (NIH): NIH, the nation's medical research agency, includes 27 Institutes and Centers and is a component of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. NIH is the primary federal agency conducting and supporting basic, clinical, and translational medical research, and is investigating the causes, treatments, and cures for both common and rare diseases. For more information about NIH and its programs, visit www.nih.gov.

Reference
  1. Lowery FJ, Krishna S, Yosef R, et al. Molecular signatures of antitumor neoantigen-reactive T cells from metastatic human cancers. February 3, 2022. Science. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1126/science.abl5447.

If you would like to reproduce some or all of this content, see Reuse of NCI Information for guidance about copyright and permissions. In the case of permitted digital reproduction, please credit the National Cancer Institute as the source and link to the original NCI product using the original product's title; e.g., “Gene expression profile could enable rapid identification of anti-tumor immune cells for personalized immunotherapy was originally published by the National Cancer Institute.”