Pozniak, et al. – Summary

Poźniak J, Nsengimana J, Laye JP, O’Shea SJ, Diaz JMS, Droop AP, Filia A, Harland M, Davies JR, Mell T, Randerson-Moor JA, Muralidhar S, Hogan SA, Freiberger SN, Levesque MP, Cook GP, Bishop DT, Newton-Bishop J. Genetic and Environmental Determinants of Immune Response to Cutaneous Melanoma. Cancer Res. 2019 May 15;79(10):2684-2696. Available at: https://cancerres.aacrjournals.org/content/79/10/2684

Immunotherapy is a type of treatment that target and boost immune responses against cancer showed to have great impact on prolonging the survival of cancer patients, especially melanoma (skin cancer) patients. However, because of the complexity of the interaction between immune system and cancer cells it is still a challenge to understand why some patients do not benefit (around 50%) from this kind of treatment (in other words – are resistant to it). Some published evidences point that lack of preexisting or impaired existing immune responses within the tumour contribute to evade immune responses against melanoma.

In order to understand the mechanisms of tumors being/becoming invisible to the immune system it is crucial to study early stage tumors. Therefore, the recently published paper  by Pozniak et al. at the University of Leeds focused on analysis of primary melanoma tumors. The authors classified patients into three immune subgroups: high, intermediate and low immune and subsequently identified genetic and environmental factors that were associated with these groups. They found that upregulation of a well-known oncogene MYC and dawnregulation of an immune gene NFKB1 were associated with low immune tumours on the DNA, RNA as well as protien level. In terms of environmental factors, the researchers showed an evidence that smoking cigarettes might interact with immune responses against melanoma, possibly contributing to worsened survival of melanoma patients particularly in the high immune subgroup. In summary, in this publication novel genetic and environmental factors that are associated with immune responses to melanoma were described, which might be considered for further studies.

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