The clinical application of T cell immunotherapy depends on ex vivo modification and expansion of T cells for adoptive transfer. In preclinical models, the use of a purified, naive T cell subset enhances persistence and antitumor immunity; however, the majority of clinical studies rely on modification of mixed populations of T cells that contain only a small subset of highly functional T cells with less-differentiated phenotype. In this month’s issue of the JCI, Klebanoff and colleagues uncover a Fas-mediated interaction between naive T cells and antigen-experienced T cells that drives differentiation and impairs adoptive immunotherapy. Further, they show that blockade of Fas signaling enhances antitumor immunity and increases survival in a mouse model of melanoma. Their work supports a growing body of evidence that the use of naive T cells enhances the efficacy of adoptive T cell therapy and suggests a new therapeutic strategy for preserving less-differentiated T cell populations.
Yang Xu, Gianpietro Dotti