IMAGE: This is Padmanee Sharma, M.D., Ph.D. view more
Credit: MD Anderson Cancer Center
HOUSTON – Using a targeted therapy to block a protein that suppresses T cell activity could improve cancer treatment with immune checkpoint inhibitors, researchers at The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center report today in the Journal of Clinical Investigation.
The team showed that EZH2 is elevated in immune T cells in patients after treatment with ipilimumab, a drug that unleashes an immune response by blocking the activity of CTLA-4 on T cells, white blood cells that serve as the targeted warriors of the adaptive immune system.
“Immune checkpoint therapy has led to significant clinical responses in some patients but in order to provide benefit to even more patients, we will need rationally designed combination therapies,” said senior author Padmanee Sharma, M.D., Ph.D., professor of Genitourinary Medical Oncology and Immunology.
“Our studies show that anti-CTLA-4 therapy can lead to increased EZH2 expression in T cells, which can act to diminish T cell responses,” Sharma said.
Preclinical research in mouse models showed that combination therapy using a drug that inhibits EZH2 and ipilimumab improved T cell responses, tumor rejection and extended survival. MD Anderson researchers have translated these findings into the clinic,
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