Immunotherapy has emerged as a major therapeutic modality in oncology. Currently, however, the majority of patients with cancer do not derive benefit from these treatments. Vascular abnormalities are a hallmark of most solid tumours and facilitate immune evasion. These abnormalities stem from elevated levels of proangiogenic factors, such as VEGF and angiopoietin 2 (ANG2); judicious use of drugs targeting these molecules can improve therapeutic responsiveness, partially owing to normalization of the abnormal tumour vasculature that can, in turn, increase the infiltration of immune effector cells into tumours and convert the intrinsically immunosuppressive tumour microenvironment (TME) to an immunosupportive one. Immunotherapy relies on the accumulation and activity of immune effector cells within the TME, and immune responses and vascular normalization seem to be reciprocally regulated. Thus, combining antiangiogenic therapies and immunotherapies might increase the effectiveness of immunotherapy and diminish the risk of immune-related adverse effects. In this Perspective, we outline the roles of VEGF and ANG2 in tumour immune evasion and progression, and discuss the evidence indicating that antiangiogenic agents can normalize the TME. We also suggest ways that antiangiogenic agents can be combined with immune-checkpoint inhibitors to potentially improve patient outcomes, and highlight avenues of future research.
Immune checkpoint inhibitors (ICIs) produce durable responses in some melanoma patients, but many patients derive no clinical benefit, and the molecular underpinnings of such resistance remain elusive. Here, we leveraged single-cell RNA sequencing (scRNA-seq) from 33 melanoma tumors and computational analyses to interrogate malignant cell states that promote immune evasion. We identified a resistance program expressed by malignant cells that is associated with T cell exclusion and immune evasion. The program is expressed prior to immunotherapy, characterizes cold niches in situ, and predicts clinical responses to anti-PD-1 therapy in an independent cohort of 112 melanoma patients. CDK4/6-inhibition represses this program in individual malignant cells, induces senescence, and reduces melanoma tumor outgrowth in mouse models in vivo when given in combination with immunotherapy. Our study provides a high-resolution landscape of ICI-resistant cell states, identifies clinically predictive signatures, and suggests new therapeutic strategies to overcome immunotherapy resistance.
In injured tissues, regeneration is often associated with cell fate plasticity, in that cells deviate from their normal lineage paths. It is becoming increasingly clear that this plasticity often creates alternative strategies to restore damaged or lost cells. Alternatively, cell fate plasticity is also part and parcel of pathologic tissue transformations that accompany disease. In this Perspective, we summarize a few illustrative examples of physiologic and aberrant cellular plasticity. Then, we speculate on how one could enhance endogenous plasticity to promote regeneration and reverse pathologic plasticity, perhaps inspiring interest in a new class of therapies targeting cell fate modulation.
Dissecting cellular differentiation hierarchies in the mammary gland is a prerequisite for understanding both normal development and malignant transformation during tumorigenesis and tumor cell-of-origin. To achieve these goals, several recent papers utilized single cell RNA-seq and lineage tracing to improve our understanding of the composition of the mammary epithelium at different developmental stages.