IVT Lab: Cutting-edge research in the field of oncoimmunology and immunotherapy
At IVT Lab we are developing various viral platforms to be used for cancer immunotherapy. Our goal is to exploit the superior immunostimulatory potency of viruses and use that potential to elicit a robust immune response towards the cancer itself. To be able to achieve that, one approach is to coat viral particles with tumour-specific peptides or other parts of the cancer cell. For example, our PeptiCRAd and PeptiENV platforms use immunostimulatory peptides, such as MHC class I-restricted tumour-associated peptides that are coated onto the viral capsid (adenoviruses) or viral envelope (enveloped viruses) to significantly increase the tumour-specific immune activation of the viruses. We have also developed a fast method for cloning transgenes into viruses which help us to speed up the screening of various different immunostimulatory molecules on their properties of optimal immune activation.
We believe that there is not better drug than our own immune system. For this reason, we focus on new approaches that can teach the immune cells how to kill tumor cells.
Helped by innovations in silico pipelines that make our research more efficient, we aim at exploiting the pre-existing immunitysystem that we have against common pathogens to initiate and sustain anti-cancer immune responses. In addition, we are researching novel criteria that define the immunological potential of peptides that are discovered by ligandome analysis or genome sequencing of tumor tissues.
The generation of T cell immunity towards tumor cells relies on recognition of tumor antigens in the HLA-I complex by specific T cells. The success of cancer immunotherapy thus depends on the exact knowledge of tumor antigens. The collection of all naturally presented antigens in the HLA class I on the tumor surface is termed ligandome or immunopeptidome.
The most potent tumor antigens suitable for therapeutic application may be currently unknown hindering the development of immunotherapies. A major focus of our lab is to unravel the tumor antigens capable of generating strong anti-tumor T cell immunity and to develop novel techniques for their isolation. To this end we utilize direct isolation and detection of the tumor ligandome. The discovered tumor antigens may be combined with the PeptiCrad technology for development of novel cancer vaccine approaches.