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UCLA scientists discover way to amp up power of killer T cells
Date:5/10/2011

Researchers with UCLA's Jonsson Comprehensive Cancer Center have discovered a way to amp up the power of killer T-cells, called CD8 cells, making them more functional for longer periods of time and boosting their ability to multiply and expand within the body to fight melanoma, a new study has found.

The study, done in mouse models of metastatic melanoma that had spread to the brain, has important clinical implications, as the method could boost the cancer-killing power of experimental immunotherapies being tested now in various cancers, including deadly glioblastoma and metastatic melanoma, both of which are very difficult to treat successfully.

Study senior author Dr. Robert Prins, an associate professor of neurosurgery and a Jonsson Cancer Center scientist, said the killer T cells also were better able to recognize and traffic to the cancer, which is crucial as the immune system often fails to identify malignant cells as invading enemies.

The study is published in the May issue of the peer-reviewed the Journal of Immunology.

The process Prins and his team used sought to mimic the way the T cells in the immune system recognize and fight viruses in the body, stimulating what is called the innate immune system. The innate immune system is comprised of cells that immediately defend the body from infection and frequently is not stimulated in the presence of cancer, Prins said. However, the innate immune cells can be tricked into thinking a virus is present by treating with compounds that activate Toll-like receptors (TLR).

Prins' group had previously demonstrated that TLR agonists, such as imiquimod, could synergize with dendritic cell vaccines, both in mouse models and patient clinical trials. Interleukin 12 (IL-12) is one of the predominant cytokines released when TLR are activated. In this study, they wanted to see how IL-12 would affect the CD8 T cells.

Graduate student Dominique Lisiero, fir
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Contact: Kim Irwin
kirwin@mednet.ucla.edu
310-206-2805
University of California - Los Angeles Health Sciences
Source:Eurekalert

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