NextImmune - PhD Training Program

Individual projects - Validation and pre-clinical target evaluation

Joint/sister projects between the experimental group of Prof Markus Ollert and the computational group of Prof Antonio Del Sol
These joint projects cover Area A, B and C, but originate from a clinical observation of reduced activity of allergen-specific immunotherapy under anti-TNF treatment.

  • Research keywords: allergy, Th2 responses, immunotherapy, computational networks
  • Collaborations: Sergei Nedospasov (MDC, Berlin)

Project 13: Murine model of tolerance to adjuvant-driven allergen-specific immunotherapy

  • Supervisor: Prof Markus Ollert, 1 PhD student, LIH, SDU-UL
  • Research keywords: allergy, Th2 responses, immunotherapy, computational network
  • Collaborations : Sergei Nedospasov (MDC, Berlin)

During the last years, we have established a murine model for allergic asthma to a major allergen, which we used to test adjuvant-based specific immunotherapy. We aim to gain in understanding on how the regulatory mechanisms are triggered. The purpose of this project is to identify novel tolerogenic pathways for allergen-specific immunotherapy and its improvement by integrated computational network analyses.

Project 14: Integrated cellular network modeling to decipher molecular mechanisms underlying the shifted Th2 responses

  • Supervisor: Prof Antonio del Sol, 1 PhD student, LCSB, UL-SDU
  • Research keywords: allergy, Th2 responses, immunotherapy, computational networks
  • Collaborations: Sergei Nedospasov (MDC, Berlin)

Based on the allergy model described in project 13, transcriptomics and epigenomic data generated from sorted murine cells measured in different conditions will be analyzed for identifying the underlying molecular mechanisms that shift pathogenic Th2 cells in allergic disorders towards regulatory-like responses using different tools established in our group.

Project 15: A humanized mouse model of HIV latency as a preclinical tool towards functional HIV cure

  • Supervisor: Dr Carole Devaux, 1 PhD student, LIH, SDU-UL
  • Research keywords: immunology, HIV, cART
  • Collaborations: Dr Joeri Aerts (Free University of Brussels), the HIV-NANOVA project (European HIVera funding scheme)

Research on HIV pathogenesis and development of new therapeutic strategies have long been hampered by the lack of robust and reproducible preclinical models of HIV infection. In this regard, we have gained expertise in the generation and HIV infection of humanized mouse models. In this PhD project, the candidate will perform investigations that will provide important insights for the design of a therapeutic vaccine against HIV.

Project 16: Validation of chemokine receptor isoforms as drug targets for cancer therapy using Nanobody technology

  • Supervisor: Dr Andy Chevigné, 1 PhD student, LIH, UL-SDU
  • Research keywords: chemokine receptor, GPCRs, nanobodies, immunotherapy
  • Collaborations: Confo Therapeutics, Prof. Jan Steyaert (VUB/VIB, Belgium)

The aims of the project are (I) to provide solid evidences for the existence of a functional and physiologically relevant isoform of a chemokine receptor at the protein level, (II) to characterize the exact expression profiles of this isoform at the surface of healthy and cancer tissues, (III) to unravel the specific signalling pathways activated by this isoform and (IV) to develop in vitro and in vivo models allowing to investigate the functions and impact of this receptor isoform on normal tissues and tumorigenesis.

Project 17: Development of alphabodies as anti-HIV therapeutics (NextImmune-associated PhD project)

  • Supervisor: Dr Danielle Perez Bercoff, 1 PhD student, LIH & Complix (Dr Sabrina Deroo), funded through the Marie Sklodowska Curie European Training Network (GA 642434): “ANTIVIRALS: a European Training Network on Antiviral Drug Development”.
  • Research keywords: HIV, Alphabody, drug development
  • Collaborations: Complix

The objective of the project is to identify an Alphabody having a broadly HIV entry inhibiting potency and a favorable pharmacokinetic profile.