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UCLA Researchers Identify a Method to Make Tumors Susceptible to Immune Attack

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One powerful way cancer cells defend against tumor-killing immune cells is to load up their cell surface with a protein known as PD-L1. Now a team of UCLA Jonsson Comprehensive Cancer Center researchers led by Roger S. Lo, MD, PhD, has identified a method to degrade tumor cell-surface PD-L1, thereby making tumors susceptible to immune attack. This approach, in combination with existing therapies, could improve treatment responses of metastatic melanoma and other cancers by suppressing resistance to current therapies. ­­Lo and his co-authors published their findings Tuesday in the journal Cancer Discovery.

Lo, a professor of medicine (dermatology) and molecular and medical pharmacology at UCLA’s David Geffen School of Medicine, and the team at his lab first found that tumor cell-surface PD-L1 is destabilized or degraded by a protein named ITCH. By searching a trove of small molecules at a National Institutes of Health library, they found and deployed a small molecule, which they characterized to be an ITCH activator. By activating ITCH, the small molecule degrades tumor cell-surface PD-L1. This small molecule, when used together with an existing therapy, suppresses relapses of melanoma in animal models. Read more . . . 


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