Researchers at UC have discovered a previously unknown mechanism that could explain the reason behind decreased immune function in cancer patients and could be a new therapeutic target for immunotherapy for those with head and neck cancers.
The authors share these findings in an article published in the journal Frontiers in Pharmacology.
Immunotherapy is a type of cancer treatment that boosts the body's natural defenses to fight cancer.
“This would mean that there is less calmodulin binding to the channels in the T-cells from cancer patients,” Conforti says. “As previously stated, the channels do not function if the calmodulin does not bind to them. Thus, the decreased calmodulin binding in T-cells from cancer patients results in decreased function and leads to reduced tumor infiltration and killing of the cancer cells.”
“So back to our soldiers: If they were present at a battlefield, but none of them have any weaponry, this will hinder their ability to infiltrate the enemy lines. Now, if we arm each soldier adequately, we would boost their function. They can do their job. Similarly, we observed that if we increase the function of these channels by drugs that enhance their activity, the cancer patients' T-cells can penetrate the tumors better and also produce increased cytokines which can kill tumor cells,” Chimote says. “These are exciting findings that could lead to additional treatments for patients with cancer.”
“These findings strengthen the therapeutic potentials of [these] activators, which could restore cytotoxic T-cell functionality and can ultimately lead to additional immunotherapeutic options for patients with cancer,” Conforti adds.
Reference: Chimote, et al. (2020) A Compartmentalized Reduction in Membrane-Proximal Calmodulin Reduces the Immune Surveillance Capabilities of CD8+ T Cells in Head and Neck Cancer. Front. Pharmacol. DOI: https://doi.org/10.3389/fphar.2020.00143
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