Blockade of the checkpoint receptor TIGIT prevents NK cell exhaustion and elicits potent anti-tumor immunity
© JUAN GAERTNER/SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY/Getty
Blocking a protein called TIGIT doesn’t just unleash the anti-tumour activity of T cells, it also spurs natural killer (NK) cells — another type of immune cell — to attack cancer, according to a study led by researchers from the University of Science and Technology of China.
Working with mouse models of several forms of cancer, the researchers showed that inhibiting TIGIT, either genetically or with an antibody drug, impaired tumour growth. This effect depended on both T cells and NK cells.
Other checkpoint molecules — including PD-1 and CTLA-4, both targets of existing immunotherapy drugs — also neutralized T cell function, but only TIGIT expression impacted NK cells. Therapeutic targeting of TIGIT could benefit patients whose T cells who don’t respond to current immunotherapies but who may have NK cells that are still amenable to modulation. Combinatorial strategies may also improve clinical outcomes.
- Nature Immunology 19, 723–732 (2018). doi: 10.1038/s41590-018-0132-0