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Title: Immune evasion in glioma
Author: Close, Helen Judith
ISNI:       0000 0004 6058 4511
Awarding Body: University of Leeds
Current Institution: University of Leeds
Date of Award: 2016
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Glioblastoma multiforme (GBM) is the most common form of primary brain cancer and the current prognosis for patients is poor. New therapies are required that target the invasive cells that are characteristic of GBM. GBM is infiltrated by immune cells but, as with other cancers, immune evasion pathways minimise productive anti-tumour immunity. Natural killer (NK) cells are able to recognise and kill tumour cells and are being developed for the immunotherapy of other cancers. The aim of this work was to analyse the interaction between human NK cells and GBM cells in vivo and in vitro, as a prerequisite to future NK cell based immunotherapy of GBM. Analysis of the cell surface phenotype for GBM infiltrating NK and T cells revealed that the tumour microenvironment exerts localised immune evasion mechanisms which downregulate activation receptors and upregulate inhibitory receptors. The interaction of NK cells with patient-derived GBM stem cells, which are thought to be responsible for recurrent disease, was investigated in vitro. A high-throughput, multiplex flow cytometry-based screen of tumour cells revealed the expression of a number of cell surface molecules that regulate NK cell activation. Furthermore, GBM cells were more susceptible to NK cell lysis in vitro compared to a non-cancerous neural progenitor cell line, revealing specificity in the NK cell response. Furthermore, this screen identified potential mechanisms by which GBM might evade immune surveillance in vivo. Targeting these pathways and restoring functional immune surveillance provides a potential route for future immunotherapy of this disease. However, GBM patients often experience cerebral oedema and are treated with immunosuppressive corticosteroids, such as dexamethasone; this induces a similar immunosuppressed phenotype to that observed with the GBM infiltrating NK cells, and inhibits their lytic function. Gene expression profiling identified the transcription factor c-Myc as a key regulator of NK cell activation and as a hub for the immunosuppressive action of steroids and the immunosuppressive cytokine TGF-β. The demonstration that therapeutic steroids target the same pathway as TGF-β and induce immunosuppression has important implications for the use of steroids in patients undergoing immunotherapy.
Supervisor: Cook, Graham P. ; Wilson, Erica B. Sponsor: Cancer Research UK
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available