Professor Andrew Sewell’s Presentation on Cancer Immunotherapy at KCRS22
Professor Andrew Sewell is a distinguished Research Professor in the Division of Infection and Immunity at Cardiff University School of Medicine in the United Kingdom.
Professor Sewell’s lab focuses on understanding the functions of proteins encoded by specific tumor-suppressor genes, with the ultimate goal of developing new anticancer therapies.
The Role of T-Cell Receptors in Cancer Immunotherapy
Professor Andrew Sewell presents “New Modes of Cancer Targeting by Dissecting Successful Immunotherapy.” This presentation was delivered on October 7th, 2022, at KCRS22 in Philadelphia.
Professor Sewell’s lab focuses on understanding the functions of proteins encoded by specific tumor-suppressor genes, with the ultimate goal of developing new anticancer therapies. In this talk, he discusses the latest directions in basic cancer research, particularly the work published as “Targeting of multiple tumor-associated antigens by individual T-cell receptors during successful cancer immunotherapy” in Cell (https://doi.org/10.1016/j.cell.2023.06.020).
Please note that the publication peer-review necessitated new experimentation and some further evolution of the story. For the most accurate information, refer to the Cell paper linked above.
“Normal, healthy body cells only present bits of normal proteins, and these are ignored by killer T cells. If a cell is, for instance, infected with a virus, then it will contain some proteins of viral origin and bits of these will be displayed on the surface of the infected cell. Killer T cells can recognize these protein fragments as ‘foreign’.
“This activates the killer T cell to destroy the infected body cell and all its contents, including the virus. In this sense, killer T cells act as a sophisticated ‘seek and destroy’ weapon.”
– Professor Andrew Sewell
Key Takeaways from Professor Sewell’s Presentation
The research team at Cardiff, led by Professor Sewell, has discovered unconventional T-cells equipped with a new type of T-cell receptor (TCR) which recognizes and kills most human cancer types while ignoring healthy cells. The discovery holds out the tantalizing possibility of a universal approach to killing cancer. The Nature Immunology article on this TCR found it recognized and killed most human cancer types via the monomorphic MHC class I-related protein, MR1.
The hope is this new TCR may provide the scientific community with a different route to target and destroy a wide range of cancers in all patients, opposed to the widely known therapy, CAR-T, which is personalized to each patient and targets only a few types of cancers and has not been successful in solid tumors. Research has shown that TCR kills cancer cells in the lung, skin, blood, colon, breast, bone, prostate, ovarian, kidney, and cervix while ignoring healthy cells. This approach is now in promising early clinical trials with other cancers.