The awarded research projects of Jolanda de Vries, Gerty Schreibelt, Martijn Verdoes and colleagues will initiate new research lines and collaborations between various research groups. Amongst other things, these projects will work on improving immune therapies against cancer and the role of genes in ageing processes.
The, in total 12, awarded projects will jointly receive over nine million euros from this first round of the ZonMw Open Competition. This programme aims to create opportunities for outstanding curiosity-driven (groundbreaking) research. The funding enables excellent research groups to renew their research lines that contribute to health research. Another important requirement is that they realize new collaborations between various research groups.
Jolanda de Vries, Gerty Schreibelt and Martijn Verdoes
Optimizing the design of dendritic cell vaccine immunotherapies
In recent years, vaccination has sprouted as an extremely promising new therapeutic strategy to combat cancer. Many clinical trials are based on the vaccination of cancer patients with peptides corresponding to cancer antigens with the aim of raising anti-cancer cytolytic T lymphocytes (CTL) responses. The efficacy of immune vaccines depends on how effective the peptide is cross-presented by dendritic cells (DCs) to activate CTLs. Goal of this project is to optimize the cross-presentation efficiency of cancer-specific MHC-I-binding epitopes by chemical modifications. We propose to unravel the cell-biological basis of cross-presentation of different antigen vaccine modalities by a combination of novel chemical approaches with state-of-the- art cell biology, microscopy and immunology. We envision that this study will lead to a universal strategy for designing optimal peptide-based anti-cancer vaccines. This novel directed approach will lead to a detailed understanding of CTL cross-priming and thereby allow for smart design strategies to optimize anti-cancer vaccination.