Unraveling T cell dysfunction in cancer

Kaspar Bresser, post-doctoral scientist at Sanquin, has secured funding from the Amsterdam UMC - Cancer Center Amsterdam Foundation for a profound exploration into the complexities of T cell dysfunction in the context of cancer.

In a two-year grant for pioneering research, Kaspar's project will scrutinize the gradual loss of killing capacity in T cells within tumors. This dysfunction hampers their efficacy in combating cancerous cells. Kaspar's approach involves targeting metabolic pathways to strategically 're-program' cancer-specific T cells, enhancing their functional state, and bolstering their anti-cancer activity.

Cancer Center Amsterdam Foundation's Mission

Established over a quarter-century ago, the Cancer Center Amsterdam Foundation is dedicated to raising crucial funds for vital research, facilities, and lifestyle care. Focused on advancing early cancer detection, improving diagnostic methods, and developing more effective treatments, the Foundation annually supports promising early-stage research projects. Kaspar's project is one of the nine initiatives receiving support this year.

Collaborative Endeavors

For this project, Kaspar collaborates with esteemed researchers Marieke F. Fransen, PhD, Idris Bahce, and Jan Van den Bossche from Amsterdam UMC. Together, they strive to lay the groundwork for exciting new strategies in cancer treatment.

Kaspar elaborates: "T cells are inherently able to attack and destroy cancer cells. However, within a tumor, they often succumb to dysfunction. My research aims to explore the role of specific enzymes that are involved in energy metabolism in the development of this dysfunction in T cells. I believe that inhibition of these enzymes can allow us to ‘program’ T cells into a functional state, enhancing their ability to combat the tumor.” 

Fundamental to Clinical

While this current research at Sanquin delves into the basic mechanisms of T cell dysfunction in the cancer microenvironment, its significance extends beyond the laboratory. This fundamental understanding can create a solid basis for multiple innovative clinical interventions, bridging the gap between fundamental discovery and practical applications in cancer treatment.