Project (Collaboration between the labs of Johannes Soeding, Peter Lenart, and Marieke Oudelaar at MPI-NAT )

Harnessing innate immunity for a novel approach to cancer therapy

Metastatic cancer is the second leading cause of death world-wide. Our goal is to develop a cancer immunotherapy approach that has high selectivity to kill cancer cells without affecting healthy cells. The approach should be very robust against resistance mutations, one of the main challenges to cure metastatic cancer, and it could potentially work for all cancers. You will develop transgene cassettes for vectors that mimick a viral infection in cancer cells [1,2]. This triggers an innate immune reaction that kills the cancer cells and alerts T cells to the presence of cancerous cells, starting the "cancer immunity cycle” [3]. You will conduct demonstration experiments with the designed vectors in healthy and cancer cell lines, in which we would like to show that the cancer cells get killed while the healthy cells remain unaffected. You monitor cellular health and innate immune reactions over time using confocal microscopy, FACS, EMSA, and RNA-seq. You will optimize the effectivity and specificity of the approach by designing different vector constructs and measuring the reactions of cells. In the next phase, we aim to demonstrate the approach in a mouse model of breast cancer in collaboration with the group of Frauke Alves in our institute.

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