Dissecting the naïve T cell repertoire – a way to define novel tumour antigens
Research area: Cellular Immunology
Group leaders: Federica Sallusto
Status: In progress
Curing cancer has been the major goal of biomedical research in the last decade. Whereas some cancer types like chronic myeloid leukaemia are relatively easy to treat nowadays, others like melanoma or pancreatic adenocarcinoma are still related to a very poor prognosis. Recent studies on immunotherapy showed promising results by exploiting the patient’s immune system to selectively eradicate tumour tissue. However, to make these vaccination strategies more efficient, it is of great importance to find antigens that are highly selective for tumour cells but also easily recognized by the T cells of the patient. So far there are only few studies published that systematically analyse the ability of T cells to recognise known tumour antigens. Most of these studies focus only on effector or memory T cells. Because of this, these studies fail to determine the whole potential of antigen recognition by the T cell repertoire, which includes naïve T cells present only in healthy individuals. However, this repertoire is of great interest for further vaccination strategies, since it may largely determines the efficacy of the included immune response. The aim of this project is, hence, to define the naïve T cell repertoire against a collection of common tumour antigens in healthy donors as well as cancer patients before and after immunotherapy. The results of this study may impact on design of immunotherapies and help to improve the efficacy of this third line of cancer treatment.