T lymphocytes : from basic biology to immunotherapy
Research project
Objective of the project

The major objective of the present proposal is to gain insights into the mechanism whereby antigen‑stimulated T lymphocytes acquire and express adequate effector function during an immune response.

The long term goal of this project is to devise novel and efficient strategies for the immunotherapy of cancer. To be effective, the "cancer vaccines" need to address two major challenges:

  • Vaccination needs to stimulate the clonal expansion and differentiation of tumour‑specific effector lymphocytes toward the desired phenotype (cytotoxic / inflammatory)
  • Suppressor mechanisms limiting immunotherapy need to be overcome.

This long term goal requires therefore a better understanding of the molecular linguistics governing immune cells interactions.

The project reuniting nine different teams with expertise in fundamental and clinical immunology is structured around 5 themes:

  • Differentiation and function of T helper subsets
  • Mechanisms of immune suppression by regulatory T cells
  • Understanding and reverting functional impairment of effector T cells
  • Interplay between innate immunity and T cell responses
  • Novel strategies for the induction of anti-tumour T cells

The overall objective of this project is to devise strategies that would enable us to selectively induce, in clinical settings, the differentiation of antigen-specific T cells toward a pre-determined functional status (effector or regulator depending on the aimed pathology), while minimizing toxicity to healthy tissues.