Immunotherapy has opened a huge therapeutic window in the last decade. However, there is still a lot of work to be done in order to explore all the possibilities and the underlying mechanisms behind this modulation and its associated-resistance. In fact, this is the case for head and neck squamous cell cancers, a highly invasive cancer type that usually presents resistance to anti-PDL1 therapy and presents really bad prognosis.

Within these lines, the journal of Cell Stem Cell has just published a very elegant study performed in mice by the University of UCLA in which they unveil CD276 as the gene responsible for allowing cancer stem cells to bypass T cell immune recognition. In fact, CD276 encodes for a cell surface protein molecule localized in the outer layers of tumors preventing T cell response within the interior of the tumor.

Furthermore, administration of anti-CD276 antibodies blocked this check point and inhibited not only tumor growth and tumor progression, but also its metastasis via a significant CD8+ T-cell-dependent reduction of cancer stem cells and their epithelial-mesenchymal transition.

Hopefully, these results will be soon translated into the clinic.