NK cell RESTORE - Can GLP-1 therapy restore tumour immunity in severely obese patients?

Obesity has recently over taken smoking as the number one cause of preventable deaths worldwide. This is because obesity causes many serious diseases such as heart disease and cancer. Recent reports suggest that up to 50% of all cancers are now due to obesity. Obesity is linked to cancer through many avenues from inflammation, hormonal imbalances to loss of tumour immunity. Natural Killer (NK) cells are the bodies professional cancer killing cells, and form the first line of tumour immunity. NK cells can rapidly kill tumour cells using lytic proteins, whilst also recruiting other immune cells to the fight. We have previously shown that NK cells are defective in obese adults and children, losing their ability to kill tumour cells, which puts these patients at an increased risk of cancer, and poorer outcomes. GLP-1 is a hormone produced by the gut, and can help control blood sugar and bodyweight. We have new data which suggests that GLP-1 therapy can restore NK cell numbers and killing in obese patients, how this happens is unknown.

In this project we aim to establish if GLP-1 therapy can restore NK cell function, and how this happens. The findings from this project have potential to prioritize this at-risk group of patients for GLP-1 therapy, and may highlight novel approaches for preventing cancer in obese patients.

Award Date
27 June 2019
Award Value
Principal Investigator
Professor Donal O'Shea
Host Institution
University College Dublin
Investigator Led Projects