Melanoma Immunobiology


T cell responses in an immunogenic cancer type

For many decades, it has been noted clinically that patients with melanoma respond better to traditional immunotherapies (i.e., IL-2, vaccines) better than patients with most other types of cancer. It was long assumed this stemmed from the ability of melanomas to elicit immune responses, while other cancers were thought not to. This even led to the designation of melanoma as an “immunogenic” cancer. Antibodies to PD-1 altered this view, as they act on T cells that have been previously activated and work in many cancer types (including traditionally “non-immunogenic” cancers). Thus, it is clear that most cancers naturally elicit anti-tumor T cell responses, but how those responses differ between cancers remains uncertain. The melanoma team is focused on the generation of autochthonous mouse models of melanoma to studying the development and function of T cells in this disease.

This work is funded by a generous grants from the Melanoma Research Alliance and the Yale SPORE in skin cancer.