Vici boost for Immunotherapy

Vries, Jolanda de

Jolanda de Vries, Dept. of Tumor Immunology has been awarded a NWO Vici grant of 1,5 M€; one of the largest personal scientific awards in the Netherlands!  

Professor Jolanda de Vries has been awarded her proposal entitled:
"Theranostics for the development of successful natural dendritic cell vaccines to combat and prevent cancer".

(DC) are the professional antigen-presenting cells of the immune system. Following infection or inflammation they undergo a complex process of maturation, and migrate to lymph nodes where they present antigens to T-cells. Their decisive role in inducing immunity formed the rationale for DC immunotherapy: DC loaded with tumour antigens are injected into cancer patients to stimulate T-cells to eradicate tumours.

We demonstrated that natural DC are superior to cultured DC in inducing effective immune responses and favourable clinical outcomes, but still only in a minority of patients. These findings underscore the need for more effective cellular vaccines as well as to get insight in how they induce effective anti-tumour responses (aim of this VICI). Consequently, in key objective I, I want to develop DC vaccines by identifying factors that are essential for cooperation between two DC subsets with distinct but complementary functions. I expect to obtain insight in DC subset interactions and optimal activation status for enhancing antitumor immunity in cancer patients warranting clinical testing.

Recently it became clear that especially the multi-functionality of immune cells is important to boost anti-tumour responses. In key objective II, I will develop methods to assess the efficacy of the multiparty dendritic cell vaccine to boost superior immune cells. To visualise and directly measure effects of the DC vaccine (key objective I) I will extend the development of imaging agents.My novel fluorescent imaging tool for use in the clinic, provides me the unique opportunity to label DC before injection and then trace them back in the patients¹ lymph node to determine their location, the interacting cells, and the cells they attract to boost anti-tumour responses directly in the patients¹ body.

I envisage that optimal DC vaccines and new monitoring technology is of major importance to improve DC-based immunotherapy of cancer. 

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