Altered histone protein acetylation is associated with dysregulated NK cell metabolism in different cancer types

Fixing broken immune cells in a range of cancers.

Finding a way to stop cancer spreading (known as metastasis) remains a holy grail of scientific research. We know that we can use the immune system in anti-cancer therapies and this has opened up the possibility that patients can be cured using combinations of conventional treatments and those that use the immune system. We have found that specialised immune cells, Natural Killer (NK) cells, which normally fight cancer can become exhausted and no longer able to function as cancer progresses. We know this from studying metastatic breast cancer. In this new study, we want to:

  1. understand why this happens by looking at internal mechanisms within the cell and how they are stop functioning properly and
  2. investigate if the effects we see are common to other cancers, starting with metastatic skin cancer.

These are important goals because, by understanding why cells stop functioning properly, we can potentially restore their functions more effectively. We already have some information suggesting that NK cells may regulate their DNA differently in cancer patients and will explore this in the project. Furthermore, if we discover that these defects in NK cells are found in many cancer types, we can work towards a therapy that will not just work in metastatic breast cancer but a broad range of cancer types.

This work will continue one collaboration and start a new one with oncologists in St. James’s Hospital Dublin and will be part of the Trinity St. James’s Cancer Institute programme of research.

Award Date
01 July 2022
Award Value
Principal Investigator
Professor Clair Gardiner
Host Institution
Trinity College Dublin
Investigator Led Projects