Immunology and immunotherapy

The immune system protects us from bacterial and viral invaders, but also recognizes and destroys potentially cancerous cells. However, a malfunctioning immune system can result in disease like autoimmunity, allergy and cancer. The fellows study this complex system in both healthy and diseased state, relevant e.g. for the development of vaccines and immunotherapy

Benjamin Caulier

Benjamin Caulier

Country of origin: Colombia
Hosts: Jorrit Enserink
Group: CanCell (Cancer Molecular Medicine)
Thematic area: Cell Therapy
Project title: Chimeric Antigen Receptor (CAR) cell-based immunotherapy. Development of novel CARs directed against "hard-to-target" tumor-associated antigens for hematological and solid malignancies

My project

My research project is focused on the development of an innovative anti-cancer modality, the Chimeric Antigen Receptor (CAR) therapy. This approach harnesses the potential of patients’ own immune cells to specifically kill their cancer. Practically, patients’ cells are transformed with an innovative receptor (the CAR) to be redirected against a tumor antigen. The main goal of my project is to identify novel “targetable” antigens and develop innovative CAR designs to address the impediments of current CAR therapy especially against solid tumors.

The project seeks to develop novel strategies for broad cancer immunotherapy, which may result in a substantial improvement in survival and quality of life for patients. In the long term, it may lead to reduced costs for health care providers. Finally, the project may shed light on specific cancer physio-pathological mechanisms as well as basic immune cell biology.

Filipa Vaz

Country of origin: Portugal
Host: Rasmus Iversen
Group: Ludvig Sollid Group
Thematic area: Immunology
Your research project title: From gut to bone marrow: linking mucosal and systemic immune responses

My project

Our gut is constantly exposed to potentially harmful substances, including bacteria and food antigens, which stimulate the immune system.
Gut immune responses give rise to antibodies that may protect us from infection both locally and systemically. However, we do not understand how local immune responses in the gut are connected to systemic antibody production. This knowledge will be important for future development of efficient oral vaccines.

My project aims to understand how immune responses in the gut contribute to systemic immunity. I study if gut antibody responses give rise to bone marrow plasma cells that secrete antibodies into the circulation.

Johan Georg Visser

Portrait of Johan Georg Visser

Country of origin: South Africa
Host: Professor Anne Spurkland
Group: T Cell Activation and Autoimmune Disease
Thematic area: Immunology
Project title: Fine tuning adaptive immunity. Characterization of signaling pathways in experienced T cells

My project

The adaptive immune response against pathogens is dependent on T cells. Adequate protection upon infection with a given microbe requires activation and proliferation of a few naïve microbe specific T cells. We use state-of-the-art technologies, to identify and characterize novel signaling pathways in experienced T cells.

This project utilizes primary antigen presenting cells to characterize T cell signaling in a more physiologically relevant manner. Determining the role of T cell-specific adaptor protein, TSAd, in T cell signaling and its relevance in the phosphotyrosine repertoire, is of specific interest to this project.

Fine-tuning of adaptive immunity via experienced T cells has relevance for cancer immunotherapy, alleviating allograft rejection, autoimmune disease, and could open new avenues for vaccine development. Determining the role of TSAd could lead to discovery of new therapeutic targets applicable many disease states.

Marlene Fyrstenberg Laursen

Image may contain: Person, Forehead.

Country of origin: Denmark
Host: Bjarne Bogen
Group: Cellular and Molecular Immunology
Thematic area: Immunology
Project title: Turning recessive epitopes into dominant epitopes: application to a universal influenza vaccine

My project

Each year, influenza viruses causes up to 5 million cases of serious disease and up to 650,000 deaths worldwide. The influenza virus have the ability to transmit between species and hereby cause severe pandemics. Furthermore, the viruses transmitted between humans undergo antigenic mutations, which give rise to seasonal influenza epidemics. While today’s vaccines are efficient against homologues virus strains, it fails to protect against strains that have mutated and those from non-human sources.

A universal influenza vaccine will be groundbreaking in the international research field and lead to a paradigm change in vaccinology. The societal impact of an effective universal influenza vaccine will be invaluable, since this could decrease seasonal influenza-associated disease and death, and protect against future pandemic outbreaks.