The Immune Response and Cancer research group of the Granada Biosanitary Research Institute (ibs.GRANADA), led by Francisco Ruiz Cabello, has demonstrated the relevant role of class I human leukocyte antigens (HLA-I) in cancer .

HLA-I molecules are key in tumor recognition and T cell-mediated clearance. These molecules can be found on the surface of most cells in the body and are proteins that help the immune system find and destroy cancer cells. or infected with a virus or bacteria. However, cancer cells often lose the HLA-I molecules, and the immune system cannot detect these abnormal cells and destroy them. Consequently, tumor cells escape the immune response, multiply and colonize distant organs and create metastases.

Thus, cancers that lose HLA class I molecules are more aggressive and do not respond well to treatment, including immunotherapy aimed at activating the immune system to fight the cancer. If the cancer does not lose or restore its HAL-I molecules, which are natural to all human cells, it will be possible for the T cells, which are part of the human immune system, to ruthlessly destroy cancerous or precancerous cells.

In a recent review carried out by researchers Natalia Aptsiauri and Federico Garrido from ibs.GRANADA and the Virgen de las Nieves University Hospital in Granada, the relevance of detecting and correcting the loss of tumor HLA-I to improve cancer treatment in general, predict treatment outcome and develop an individualized protocol as part of personalized medicine.

There is increasing evidence that suggests that the clinical efficacy of cancer immunotherapy is based on its ability to recover this HLA-I antigen that causes the stimulation of tumor rejection mediated by the immune system, specifically by our T cells.

About the research group

The ibs.GRANADA “Immune Response and Cancer” research group, whose lead researchers belong to the Clinical Analysis and Urology Services and the Department of Biochemistry, Molecular Biology III and Immunology of the Faculty of Medicine of the University of Granada, Its main objective is the analysis of the immune response in cancer, the role of infiltrating leukocytes and the immunophenotypic characteristics of tumor cells. The research group has identified the main escape mechanisms used by tumors (kidney, bladder, prostate and colon cancer) to evade the immune response. Particularly, it has focused on those mechanisms that prevent antigenic recognition by immune cytotoxic effectors. They have evaluated the most relevant aspects that these defects have in various immunotherapy protocols and the possible correction, through gene therapy procedures. The group collaborates with various European and American centers working on the design of cancer vaccines.

More information about the group at https://www.ibsgranada.es/grupos-de-investigacion/a08-respuesta-inmune-y-cancer/

Bibliographic reference: Aptsiauri, N; Garrido, F. The Challenges of HLA Class I Loss in Cancer Immunotherapy: Facts and Hopes. Clinical Cancer Research. 2022 https://doi.org/10.1158/1078-0432.CCR-21-3501

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