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Tumor Endothelial Cells in NSCLC: headmasters of tumor immunity

A talk by Andreas Pircher
Medizinische Universität Innsbruck, Innsbruck, Austria

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About this talk

Tumor progression depends primarily on vascular supply, which is facilitated by angiogenic activity within the malignant tissue. Non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) is a highly vascularized tumor, and inhibition of angiogenesis was projected to be a promising therapeutic approach. Over a decade ago, the first anti-angiogenic agents were approved for advanced stage NSCLC patients, however, they only produced a marginal clinical benefit. Explanations why anti-angiogenic therapies only show modest effects include the highly adaptive tumor microenvironment (TME) as well as the less understood characteristics of the tumor vasculature. Today, advanced methods of in-depth characterization of the NSCLC TME by single cell RNA sequencing (scRNA-Seq) and preclinical observations enable a detailed characterization of individual cancer landscapes, allowing new aspects for a more individualized inhibition of angiogenesis to be identified. Furthermore, the tumor vasculature itself is composed of several cellular subtypes, which closely interact with other cellular components of the TME, and show distinct biological functions such as immune regulation, proliferation, and organization of the extracellular matrix. With these new insights, combinational approaches including chemotherapy, anti- angiogenic and immunotherapy can be developed to yield a more target-oriented anti-tumor treatment in NSCLC. Recently, anti-angiogenic agents were also shown to induce the formation of high endothelial venules (HEVs), which are essential for the formation of tertiary lymphoid structures, and key components in triggering anti-tumor immunity. In this talk, I will focus on the current knowledge of tumor-angiogenesis and corresponding anti-angiogenic therapies, as well as new aspects concerning characterization of tumor-associated vessels and the resulting new strategies for anti-angiogenic therapies and vessel inhibition in NSCLC. I will discuss why anti-angiogenic therapies form an interesting backbone strategy for combinational therapies and how anti-angiogenic approaches could be further developed in a more personalized tumor-oriented fashion with focus on NSCLC.

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