NK and T cell dysfunction in HPV-related malignancies


Kazuki is investigating effector cell dysfunction in HPV-associated cancer. HPV- associated cancers are recognized as an ideal target for T cell and NK cell based immunotherapy, such as vaccines or immune checkpoint inhibition. Several immune checkpoint inhibitors such as anti-PD-1 and anti-NKG2A antibodies, and therapeutic vaccine using viral antigens are reported to have anti-tumor activity in human and mice models. However, the clinical efficacy of these approaches is still not optima, with 30-35% anti-tumor response even when combining both approaches. Kazuki utilizes T cell assay and various single-cell techniques to characterize the phenotype, function of T cell and NK cell dysregulation in head and neck cancer with HPV. He also uses patient-derived organoid co-culture system with immune cells to identify the mechanism of immune-resistance. His goal is to improve our understanding of the immune response against HPV-associated cancers to facilitate better, precision immunotherapy for these malignancies.