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Checkpoint Protein Propped Up by Cell-Surface Sidekick

06:42 EDT 17 Aug 2017 | Genetic Engineering News

Many cancer cells duck the immune system’s T cells by displaying PD-L1, a cell-surface protein that engages PD-1, another cell-surface protein, this one displayed by T cells, and thereby signals T cells to stand down. Although the PD-L1/PD-1 connection is well studied and the inspiration behind a new class of anticancer drugs called checkpoint inhibitors, it isn’t as well understood as scientists would like. Outstanding questions include: Why is PD-L1 more abundant in some cancers than in others? And why is checkpoint therapy more helpful in some patients than others? Hoping to shed light on such questions, two teams of scientists decided to investigate the PD-L1/PD-1 connection. Both teams—one based in the Netherlands, one in Australia—focused on PD-L1 and how it comes to be expressed, and how it manages to persist, on the surface of cancer cells. Although the teams used different methods, the arrived at a ...

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