Stefani Spranger on the Role of CD8 T Cells in Melanoma

Stefani Spranger, PhD
Published: Friday, Dec 23, 2016



Stefani Spranger, PhD, postdoctoral fellow, Cancer Research Institute at The University of Chicago Medicine, discusses how the presence or absence of CD8-positive T cells can affect treatment approaches for patients with melanoma.

Spranger's research at The University of Chicago Medicine began with a focus on how to delineate patients with melanoma into those who have CD8-positive T cells present in the tumor microenvironment and those who lack those cells. She eventually discovered that some patients actually have both tumor phenotypes, ones with those T cells and ones without.

As she continued to study these differences in the tumor microenvironments, she and her colleagues identified the upregulation of the WNT/β-catenin pathway, which is a factor that actively excludes CD8-positive T cells from the tumor microenvironment. It does this by systemically blocking both the activation and recruitment of those T cells into the environment, Spranger explains. This can potentially act as an invasion mechanism for how tumors can evade a potent antitumor immune response induced by immunotherapy agents.


Stefani Spranger, PhD, postdoctoral fellow, Cancer Research Institute at The University of Chicago Medicine, discusses how the presence or absence of CD8-positive T cells can affect treatment approaches for patients with melanoma.

Spranger's research at The University of Chicago Medicine began with a focus on how to delineate patients with melanoma into those who have CD8-positive T cells present in the tumor microenvironment and those who lack those cells. She eventually discovered that some patients actually have both tumor phenotypes, ones with those T cells and ones without.

As she continued to study these differences in the tumor microenvironments, she and her colleagues identified the upregulation of the WNT/β-catenin pathway, which is a factor that actively excludes CD8-positive T cells from the tumor microenvironment. It does this by systemically blocking both the activation and recruitment of those T cells into the environment, Spranger explains. This can potentially act as an invasion mechanism for how tumors can evade a potent antitumor immune response induced by immunotherapy agents.



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