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Molecular Immunology Laboratory (MIU)

The Molecular Immunology Laboratory strives to improve our understanding of the immune response in cancer and how it can be manipulated to the benefit of the patients. It investigates lymphocyte activities in several clinical conditions: 

  • First, by studying the organization and cellular state of CD4+ T cells and germinal center B cells infiltrating the breast cancer microenvironment. This work involves both prospective studies designed to understand the functionality and subpopulations of tumor infiltrating lymphocytes present as well as their organization in peritumoral tertiary lymphoid structures, and retrospective studies that seek to apply these findings in the establishment of an immunological grade for breast cancer.
  • Second, by identifying and characterizing specific changes in gene expression associated with clinical progression during the transition from pre-malignant disease to full-blown malignancy in patients with hypereosinophilic syndrome that develop T cell leukemia/lymphoma.
  • Third, by analyzing specific changes in lymphocyte gene expression, with a focus on transcription factors regulating their normal activities, which are aberrantly regulated in human cancer. Our ultimate goal in the fight against cancer is to further understand how we can harness the power and the specificity of the immune response through its revitalization in the hostile tumor microenvironment to produce effective and sustained anti-tumor immunity.

Research projects

Project 1

Determine the prognostic and predictive value of detecting tumor infiltrating lymphocytes (TIL) and peritumoral tertiary lymphoid structures (TLS) in an effort to establish an Immunological Grade for breast cancer.

Project 2

Investigate the molecular mediators regulating CD4+ T cells and B cells infiltrating breast tumors.

Project 3

Analyze specific TIL subpopulations to understand their role(s) in the anti-tumor immune response, including follicular helper T cells (Tfh) and B cells, their contribution to TLS formation and function and their regulation by regulatory T and B cells.

Project 4

Study the role that aberrant expression of the transcription factor FOXP1 plays in CD4+ T cell persistence and expansion in breast cancer and how it regulates cytokines/chemokines and thereby affects TIL recruitment to tumors.

 

Project 5

Explore potential links between anti-tumor immune responses and specific mutations in triple negative breast cancer

Team

Head of Unit
Karen Willard-Gallo, Ph.D. in Microbiology and Immunology, Immunologist
   Email: karen.willard-gallo@bordet.be or kwillard@ulb.ac.be

Team
Soizic Garaud, Ph.D., Doctor of Life Sciences and Health, Immunologist
Grégory Noël, Ph.D., Doctor of Life Sciences and Health, Immunologist
Gert Van den Eynden, M.D., M.D., Pathologist at GZA (collaborator)
Laurence Buisseret, M.D., Doctoral thesis student (also related to BCTL)
Cinzia Solinas, Medical Oncologist, Doctoral thesis student
Mireille Langouo FontsaM.D., Doctoral thesis student
Edoardo Migliori, M.S., Doctoral thesis student  
Pushpamali De Silva, M.S., Doctoral thesis student
Anaïs Boisson, M.S., Laboratory Associate
Hugues Duvillier, M.S., Cytometrist
Céline Naveaux, Laboratory Technician (3/5 time)
Laurence Van Schoonwinkel, Laboratory Technician (1/2 time)
Hélène Strainchamps, administrative assistant

+ each year numerous students (stages, memoires, etc.)

 Scientific publications

Retrospective analysis of the immunogenic effects of intra-arterial locoregional therapies in hepatocellular carcinoma: a rationale for combining selective internal radiation therapy (SIRT) and immunotherapy.

Authors : Craciun L, de Wind R, Demetter P, Lucidi V, Bohlok A, Michiels S, Bouazza F, Vouche M, Tancredi I, Verset G, Garaud S, Naveaux C, Galdon MG, Gallo KW, Hendlisz A, Derijckere ID, Flamen P, Larsimont D, Donckier V
Year : 2020
Journal : BMC Cancer
Volume : 20
Pages : 135

The path to a better biomarker: application of a risk management framework for the implementation of PD-L1 and TILs as immuno-oncology biomarkers into breast cancer clinical trials and daily practice.

Authors : Gonzalez-Ericsson PI, Stovgaard ES, Sua LF, Reisenbichler E, Kos Z, Carter JM, Michiels S, Le Quesne J, Nielsen TO, Lænkholm AV, Fox SB, Adam J, Bartlett JM, Rimm DL, Quinn C, Peeters D, Dieci MV, Vincent-Salomon A, Cree I, Hida AI, Balko JM, Haynes HR, Frahm I, Acosta-Haab G, Balancin M, Bellolio E, Yang W, Kirtani P, Sugie T, Ehinger A, Castaneda CA, Kok M, McArthur H, Siziopikou K, Badve S, Fineberg S, Gown A, Viale G, Schnitt SJ, Pruneri G, Penault-Llorca F, Hewitt S, Thompson EA, Allison KH, Symmans WF, Bellizzi AM, Brogi E, Moore DA, Larsimont D, Dillon DA, Lazar A, Lien H, Goetz MP, Broeckx G, El Bairi K, Harbeck N, Cimino-Mathews A, Sotiriou C, Adams S, Liu SW, Loibl S, Chen IC, Lakhani SR, Juco JW, Denkert C, Blackley EF, Demaria S, Leon-Ferre R, Gluz O, Zardavas D, Emancipator K, Ely S, Loi S, Salgado R, Sanders M
Year : 2020
Journal : J Pathol

Reactive stroma and trastuzumab resistance in HER2-positive early breast cancer.

Authors : Sonnenblick A, Salmon-Divon M, Salgado R, Dvash E, Pondé N, Zahavi T, Salmon A, Loibl S, Denkert C, Joensuu H, Ameye L, Van den Eynden G, Kellokumpu-Lehtinen PL, Azaria A, Loi S, Michiels S, Richard F, Sotiriou C
Year : 2020
Journal : Int J Cancer

Homologous Recombination Repair Deficiency and the Immune Response in Breast Cancer: A Literature Review.

Authors : Pellegrino B, Musolino A, Llop-Guevara A, Serra V, De Silva P, Hlavata Z, Sangiolo D, Willard-Gallo K, Solinas C
Year : 2020
Journal : Transl Oncol
Volume : 13
Pages : 410-422

Immune Checkpoint Inhibitor-Induced Pancreatic Injury: Imaging Findings and Literature Review.

Authors : Porcu M, Solinas C, Migali C, Battaglia A, Schena M, Mannelli L, Addeo A, Willard-Gallo K, Saba L
Year : 2020
Journal : Target Oncol