Understanding and targeting human cancer regulatory T cells to improve therapy


Regulatory T cells (Tregs) are critical in maintaining immune homeostasis under various pathophysiological conditions. A growing body of evidence demonstrates that Tregs play an important role in cancer progression and that they do so by suppressing cancer-directed immune responses. Tregs have been targeted for destruction by exploiting antibodies against and small-molecule inhibitors of several molecules that are highly expressed in Tregs-including immune checkpoint molecules, chemokine receptors, and metabolites. To date, these strategies have had only limited antitumor efficacy, yet they have also created significant risk of autoimmunity because most of them do not differentiate Tregs in tumors from those in normal tissues. Currently, immune checkpoint inhibitor (ICI)-based cancer immunotherapies have revolutionized cancer treatment, but the resistance to ICI is common and the elevation of Tregs is one of the most important mechanisms. Therapeutic strategies that can selectively eliminate Tregs in the tumor (i.e. therapies that do not run the risk of causing autoimmunity by affecting normal tissue), are urgently needed for the development of cancer immunotherapies. This chapter discusses specific properties of human Tregs under the context of cancer and the various ways to target Treg for cancer immunotherapy.

In T Regulatory Cells in Human Health and Diseases
Nick Borcherding
Nick Borcherding
Assistant Professor

My research includes systems immunology, single-cell sequencing technology, and computational frameworks.