T cell behavior informs metastatic melanoma outcomes

Source: New Medical Life Science, May 2022

Immunotherapy unleashes the power of the immune system to fight cancer. However, for some patients, immunotherapy doesn’t work, and new research may help explain why. When immune cells called T lymphocytes infiltrate malignant tumors, the genetic program of those T cells and the developmental path they then follow, may affect their response to immunotherapy and predict overall patient survival, according to a new study by Weill Cornell Medicine investigators. The results overturn the prevailing model of immune responses in melanoma and present different therapeutic approaches.

In the study, published May 9 in Cancer Cell, the investigators analyzed thousands of human tumor samples, plus individual human T cells across many data sets and tumor types, and compared these to many models of T cell behavior in response to infections, cancer and vaccines, including human vaccines. They found that T cells either become stuck in an early activation state or develop into memory cells that are expanded by current immunotherapy approaches.

The T cells don’t behave in a singular manner, but we can understand their behavior and model it in a way that can predict patient outcomes and overall survival."
Dr. Niroshana Anandasabapathy, senior author