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The University of Southampton

New potential target for cancer immunotherapy treatment revealed

Published: 10 October 2022
Aymen Al-Shamkhani

A study from the Centre for Cancer Immunology has revealed a potential new target for immunotherapy treatment.

Antibodies that harness the immune system to destroy tumours have revolutionised the clinical management of cancer, but many patients do not respond to the treatment or develop resistance to it.


New research, led by Professor Aymen Al-Shamkhani of the University of Southampton and published in the journal JCI Insight, analysed the protein CD96, which is expressed on the surface of T cells and NK cells, two types of immune cells vital in the body’s response to cancer.

They found that antibodies which target CD96 can boost T-cells, including T-cells that reside within tumours, and make them resist regulatory T-cells, which normally suppress the anti-tumour response.

A specific type of antibody called IgG1 was found to have the best stimulatory activity, according to the study.

Professor Al-Shamkhani said: “CD96 has been considered as an immune checkpoint receptor, a type of immune receptor that can inhibit an anti-cancer response. However, this study suggests the opposite and that it is a stimulator and can be used to boost the immune system. This novel insight could be used to design new interventions to deliver better treatments to fight cancer.”

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