Public Release:  Disruption of VISTA plays an important role in regulating immune response

The Geisel School of Medicine at Dartmouth

Researchers at the Geisel School of Medicine at Dartmouth have found that the body's immune system response was enhanced when they disrupted VISTA, a protein that prevents the immune system from overreacting. Understanding how checkpoint regulators like VISTA function is important to cancer researchers, who hope to use the immune system to attack tumors. The study, "VISTA deficiency synergizes with a nonredundant immune checkpoint pathway and leads to enhanced immune activation," will be presented on April 7, 2014 at the American Association for Cancer Research Annual Meeting in San Diego, CA.

"Because there are multiple immune suppressive pathways, disrupting a single pathway like VISTA might not have led us to obvious alterations in the immune response," said Li Wang, PhD, assistant professor of Microbiology and Immunology at Geisel. "Our data showed clear chronic inflammation due to VISTA deficiency, which leads us to conclude that VISTA likely plays an important role in regulating immunity."

Wang and her colleagues hope to build on these findings to define the molecular pathway involved in VISTA-mediated immune regulation.

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This work is supported by NIH grant CA164225 (L.W.), Melanoma Research Foundation Career Development Award (L.W.), Hitchcock Foundation Research grant (L.W.), AI048667 (R.J.N), Wellcome Trust (R.J.N) and the Medical Research Council Centre for Transplantation and Biomedical Research Center at King's College London (RJN). Conflicts of interest: The authors RJN and LW are involved with ImmuNext Inc. and receive financial support for the development of anti-VISTA for immunotherapy.

About Norris Cotton Cancer Center at Dartmouth-Hitchcock

Norris Cotton Cancer Center combines advanced cancer research at Dartmouth and the Geisel School of Medicine with patient-centered cancer care provided at Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center, at Dartmouth-Hitchcock regional locations in Manchester, Nashua, and Keene, NH, and St. Johnsbury, VT, and at 12 partner hospitals throughout New Hampshire and Vermont. It is one of 41 centers nationwide to earn the National Cancer Institute's "Comprehensive Cancer Center" designation. Learn more about Norris Cotton Cancer Center research, programs, and clinical trials online at cancer.dartmouth.edu.

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