Pierre van der Bruggen

At the crossroads of cancer and autoimmunity: novel therapeutic targets on exhausted human T cells.

cancer • immunology • T-cells

Pierre van der Bruggen is professor at the Université catholique de Louvain. With his team at the de Duve Institute, he is attempting to understand why cytotoxic T-cells are not successful in killing tumour cells. In chronic infections and cancer, T-cells are exposed to persistent antigens and inflammatory signals. This prolonged exposure is often associated with the deterioration of T-cell function, which in murine models is called “T-cell exhaustion”. It is still not clear if this concept of T-cell exhaustion can be transposed to the biology of human tumours.

This WELBIO project aims to research this issue. The functions and phenotypes of CD8 T-cells that infiltrate human ovarian carcinomas will be studied in-depth, particularly in terms of their expression of transcription factors. The role of specific transcription factors will then be studied, as well as the function of tumour T-cells. A murine model with human cancer will be used to monitor the behaviour of tumour T-cells on a functional and molecular level.

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