Xuebing Wu, PhD receives Schaefer Research Scholar awards

Xuebing Wu, PhD receives Schaefer Research Scholar award for project: “Noncoding translation surveillance in tumor immunogenicity and immunotherapy”.

Wu’s Schaefer study could lead to the development of new cancer vaccines or therapies that improve the effectiveness of immunotherapies.

Immunotherapies are transforming cancer treatment but are ineffective for pancreatic cancer and many other tumors that are adept at hiding from the immune system.

The immune system can easily spot cancers covered with antigens that contain tumor-specific mutations. Tumors with fewer mutations, like pancreatic cancer, can more easily evade detection.

Recent studies have found that tumors can also be covered with “dark” antigens, which do not contain tumor-specific mutations but are generated by aberrant translation of noncoding sequences in cancer cells. Dark antigens, when present in large quantities, can trigger an attack from the immune system. Wu has found clues that cancers that evade the immune system might be suppressing the production of these dark antigens.

Wu will test the hypothesis that pancreatic cancer cells suppress the production of dark antigens by downregulating the BAG6 pathway, a process recently discovered in Wu’s lab, that partially degrades noncoding products and processes them into antigens. If so, he will then determine if increasing BAG6 expression will sensitize tumor cells to immunotherapies.

Read full article on the Irving Medical Center news page.