Neoadjuvant immunotherapy pre-cancer surgery relieves tumor-specific CD8+ T cell dysfunction and restores memory differentiation potential

Recent pre-clinical and clinical results indicate that neoadjuvant immunotherapy pre-surgery may be superior to surgery followed by adjuvant immunotherapy, however it is unclear why. In my talk, I will discuss how we dissected the mechanisms underpinning the improved efficacy of neoadjuvant immunotherapy using pre-clinical mouse models of spontaneously metastatic cancer.

A/Prof Michele Teng  obtained her PhD in 2006 at the Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre and University of Melbourne, Australia, where she investigated strategies to improve the efficacy of CAR-T cells for cancer immunotherapy. Over her career, she has published 88 peer-reviewed primary papers and reviews (6174 citations, Google Scholar; H-index, 41) in high impact journals such as Cancer Discovery, Cancer Research, Nature Med, Nat Rev Clin Oncol and Lancet Oncol.

Currently, A/Prof Teng’s group is investigating how tumour-induced immunosuppression impedes the effective treatment of established cancer. Specifically, she is interested in examining the role of T regulatory cells (Tregs), T-cell anergy/exhaustion, the adenosinergic pathway and the IL-23-associated cytokine family in the local tumour microenvironment using experimental and de novo mouse models of cancer.  Her group aims to achieve a better understanding of these immunosuppressive pathways, their relativity to one another and the diversity of effector pathways they control to enable the rational improvement of treatments for patients with established cancer. In addition, her group is determining how scheduling of immunotherapies can further improve their antitumour efficacy and have developed a preclinical mouse model to assess how different combination therapies impact on tumour immunity and immune related adverse events.