Tumour neoantigen mimicry by microbial species in cancer immunotherapy

Journal Paper/Review - Apr 6, 2021


Bösch M, Baty F, Rothschild S, Tamm M, Jörger M, Früh M, Brutsche M. Tumour neoantigen mimicry by microbial species in cancer immunotherapy. Br J Cancer 2021; 125:313-323.
Journal Paper/Review (English)
Br J Cancer 2021; 125
Publication Date
Apr 6, 2021
Issn Electronic
Brief description/objective

Tumour neoantigens arising from cancer-specific mutations generate a molecular fingerprint that has a definite specificity for cancer. Although this fingerprint perfectly discriminates cancer from healthy somatic and germline cells, and is therefore therapeutically exploitable using immune checkpoint blockade, gut and extra-gut microbial species can independently produce epitopes that resemble tumour neoantigens as part of their natural gene expression programmes. Such tumour molecular mimicry is likely not only to influence the quality and strength of the body's anti-cancer immune response, but could also explain why certain patients show favourable long-term responses to immune checkpoint blockade while others do not benefit at all from this treatment. This article outlines the requirement for tumour neoantigens in successful cancer immunotherapy and draws attention to the emerging role of microbiome-mediated tumour neoantigen mimicry in determining checkpoint immunotherapy outcome, with far-reaching implications for the future of cancer immunotherapy.