​Dr. Daniel De Carvalho and team discover gene signature that may predict response to immunotherapy


Immunotherapy is a treatment that uses the body’s own immune system to fight cancer and a new discovery may be able to predict which patients will respond to it.

The Princess Margaret’s Dr. Daniel De Carvalho and a team of scientists have discovered a gene signature biomarker that relates to the body’s molecular network called the extracellular matrix (ECM) that physically supports cells. Patients who have the gene signature may not respond to immunotherapy as the research suggests the ECM can stiffen around the diseased cells to form a barrier that blocks the treatment from getting through. 

“The ECM gene signature associated with response to immune therapy is important because as of today we do not have a very good way to predict which patient will respond or which patient will not respond,” Dr. De Carvalho, Senior Scientist at the Cancer Centre, told UHN News

Dr. De Carvalho, principal investigator, says the findings are important as it allows them to further study how to disable the ECM to enable immunotherapy.

“The ultimate goal is to find a biomarker that can help the clinician decide if a patient should receive immunotherapy or not. For those who will not respond, the answer could be the patient would first receive a drug to target the ECM, and then be able to respond to immune therapy.”

The findings have also been published in Nature Magazine. To learn more visit UHN news