Vanderbilt Team Using Mass Spec to Research Cancer Immunotherapy

NEW YORK (GenomeWeb) – Vanderbilt University researchers have developed a targeted proteomics assay that could prove useful in the development of cancer immunotherapies.

Described in a study published last week in Molecular & Cellular Proteomics, the assay uses parallel-reaction monitoring mass spectrometry to measure levels of eight proteins involved in immune checkpoint regulation and, said Daniel Liebler, senior author on the paper, and highlights potential gaps in existing antibody-based tests used to guide immune-oncology treatment.

Cancer immunotherapies aim to use the body’s immune defenses to attack cancer. One main approach clinicians have taken in this effort is targeting immune checkpoint proteins like programmed cell death 1 (PD-1), which is expressed on CD8 T cells, and its ligand programmed cell death 1 ligand 1 (PD-L1), which is expressed in certain tumors.

When PD-1 binds PD-L1, it protects tumor cells from the body’s immune response, and so, the thinking goes, inhibiting this binding could eliminate this protection and expose tumor cells to the immune system. Such approaches have emerged in recent years as a hot area of cancer drug research with more than 1,000 clinical trials launched for immune checkpoint therapies, and inhibitors of PD-1-PD-L1 binding have proved effective in cancers including

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