Human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) and cancer show striking similarities concerning the immune responses that are elicited. In both cases, cytotoxic T cells (CTLs) play a crucial role in eliminating tumour cells or virally infected cells. However, both tumor and HIV infected cells have developed mechanisms to evade elimination by CTLs. Therefore, the attention was drawn to another type of killer cells, natural killer (NK) cells which have been shown to play an important role in control of HIV and cancer. Both diseases are leading to excessive stimulation of the host’s killer cells. This results in decreased functionality of these immune cells which is characterized by expression of immune checkpoint receptors (IC-R) on the cell surface of CTLs, also referred to as exhaustion. Although IC-Rs were first studied in the context of HIV, most preclinical and clinical research has been performed in the field of cancer immunology. Moreover, blocking reagents have shown great therapeutic potential in several cancer types whereas so far only few clinical studies have been performed in HIV patients. However, the expression of IC-Rs on NK cells is not very well characterized in neither HIV nor cancer. Therefore, in this project we aim to evaluate the expression of IC-Rs on NK cells. Additionally, we will investigate whether the functionality of exhausted NK cells can be increased upon treatment with ICIs.
|Effective start/end date||11/04/19 → …|
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