Potentiel thérapeutique de la reconnaissance immunitaire du cancer colorectal métastatique


Simon Turcotte

Centre de recheche du Centre hospitalier de l'Université de Montréal


Domaine : cancer

Programme chercheurs-boursiers cliniciens - Junior 1

Concours 2015-2016

Colon cancer remains a leading cause of cancer death in Canada. The inevitable development of resistance to conventional chemotherapy is the major obstacle for cure when cancer cells have spread from the colon as metastases to other body organs. Immunotherapy, which uses the human immune system to fight cancer, is a recent breakthrough in the treatment of metastatic skin cancer. The main research goal of Dr. Turcotte is to discover how immunotherapy can be used to treat metastatic colon cancer.

In previous research, Dr. Turcotte has shown that a small fraction of immune cells, named T cells, were found to be highly supressed within various advanced gastrointestinal metastases, but could kill cancer cells in the laboratory.

To test whether and how T cells can be used for immunotherapy specifically against advanced colon cancer, Dr. Turcotte's team manages a large repository of liver metastases. As a first objective, the team will perform large-scale gene expression studies to understand by which mechanisms anti-tumour T cells are supressed in metastases. These data will be analysed to identify relevant targets for new anti-cancer immunomodulatory drugs. In their second research objective, the team will use cutting-edge gene sequencing technology to investigate how often T cells recognizing mutated gene products can be found in the blood and in the metastases of patients. How suitable these anti-tumour T cells are for immunotherapy will then be assessed.

By finding ways to overcome anti-tumour T-cell suppression and to grow these T cells for therapeutic use, Dr. Turcotte's research aims to develop effective immunotherapies for patients with colon cancer refractory to current treatments, with the hope of ultimately improving their life expectancy.