Regulatory innate lymphoid cells: rheostats of T cells in cancer and autoimmunity—MbD & IBBME Special Seminar

September 26, 2017 @ 3:00 pm – 4:00 pm
MS 4171
Medical Sciences Building
1 King's College Cir, Toronto, ON M5S 1A8

Regulatory innate lymphoid cells: rheostats of T cells in cancer and autoimmunity

A Medicine by Design and IBBME Special Seminar.

Sarah Crome

Sarah Crome, PhD
Cancer Research Society Postdoctoral Fellow
Ontario Cancer Institute, Princess Margaret Cancer Centre, University Health Network


T cell responses are subject to multiple mechanisms of negative regulation.

While examining the potential of using tumour-infiltrating lymphocytes (TIL) as a T cell-based cancer immunotherapy, we identified a distinct innate lymphoid cell (ILC) population that inhibits the expansion and activity of CD4+ and CD8+ T cells.

Transcriptome analysis and phenotypic characterization determined ILCs with regulatory potential are distinguished from conventional Natural Killer cells and other ILCs, suggesting they may constitute a novel ILC population.

Notably, the presence of regulatory ILCs corresponds to poorer clinical outcomes in ovarian cancer.

Current research has identified molecular interactions that control regulatory ILCs and demonstrated their ability to limit T cell-induced autoimmunity in vivo.

These studies are delineating the role of this immunosuppressive population in immunological tolerance and aim to identify new immunotherapeutic strategies.


Sarah Crome is a Cancer Research Society postdoctoral fellow in the laboratory of Pamela Ohashi at the Ontario Cancer Institute in Princess Margaret Cancer Centre. Her research is focused on identifying mechanism that control T cell responses and applications for immunotherapy.

Sarah’s PhD in Experimental Medicine at the University of British Columbia was in the laboratory of Megan Levings, and primarily focused on an inflammatory CD4+ T cell lineage, termed Th17 cells, that is associated with many autoimmune disorders and transplant rejection. Her research defined molecular, epigenetic and cellular regulatory mechanism that control human Th17 cell development and function.

In her postdoctoral work, Sarah has identified a distinct innate lymphoid cell (ILC) population that inhibits the activity and expansion of T cells, and is associated with poorer clinical outcomes in ovarian cancer.

Aside from her patient-based studies, she has been examining molecular interactions that control the development and function of regulatory ILCs, defining mechanisms of ILC-mediated suppression, and identifying ways to target regulatory ILC populations to enhance immunotherapies.

Sarah’s research has been recognized with awards such as the Cancer Research Society’s Next Generation Scientist award, the Banting Fellowship and the Canadian Institutes for Health Research Postdoctoral Fellowship.