Researchers Identified A Gene That Leads To T Cell Exhaustion, A Discovery That May Pave The Way For More Effective Cancer Immunotherapies

Gorodenkoff - - illustrative purposes only, not the actual person

T lymphocytes, also known as T cells, play a critical role in our immune system’s battle against cancer cells. However, during this fight, it is not uncommon for T cells to become exhausted.

So, overcoming T cell exhaustion to improve immunotherapy has become a key focal point in cancer research.

Just recently, scientists from the University of Basel in Switzerland have also added to this growing body of research with a breakthrough discovery.

They identified a gene that seemingly contributes to the exhaustion of T cells– a finding that may pave the way for more successful immunotherapies.

T cells’ fading ability to kill cancer cells, the phenomenon commonly referred to as “exhaustion,” has been a recognized problem for approximately two decades. Once T cells endure chronic exposure to cancerous tumor cells, they eventually enter an exhausted state that makes them less effective.

So, while the T cells continue recognizing hostile tumor cells, they still produce fewer substances that can eliminate cancer. Moreover, T cells stop developing into memory T cells– which are another key component for supporting immune system response.

In turn, T cell exhaustion adversely impacts immunotherapies’ effectiveness– since these therapies are reliant on stimulating the human body’s intrinsic immune defense against cancer.

“This also applies to cell therapies to tackle cancer. Even if ‘new’ T cells are injected into patients, the exhaustion remains a problem,” said Alfred Zippelius, the study’s co-author.

The researchers were thus inspired to gain a deeper understanding of the mechanisms that lead to T cell exhaustion.

Gorodenkoff – – illustrative purposes only, not the actual person

Sign up for Chip Chick’s newsletter and get stories like this delivered straight to your inbox.

1 of 2