IMMUNE SYSTEM MODULATION
Many disease processes including cancer progression and transplantation rejection involve immune aberrations.
For example, in cancer progression, growing tumors paralyze invading immune cells and, thus, prevent anti-tumor immune responses and escape tumor immune surveillance. In transplantation settings, the immune response towards the transplanted organ leading to transplant rejection is still the limiting factor for transplantation success.
Therefore, hypothetically, modulating the immune system represents a rational therapeutic approach in cancer as well as in transplantation. However, the modulation of immune responses in these two settings target opposite ends: While in cancer the aim of modulation is to enhance immune system activity to promote anti-tumor immunity, the aim in transplantation settings is alleviating the immune response against transplanted organs in order to achieve transplantation tolerance.
So far, the success of cell therapies explored for their efficacy in promoting anti-tumor immune responses in cancer or promoting tolerogenic responses in transplantation has been limited because of their often unpredictable performance. For example, immune cells endowed with strong immune effector activities turn into cells with tolerogenic activities and vice versa. This unpredictable behavior results from the complex regulation of immune cell function. Indeed, immune reactions mediated by transferred immune cells are dynamic and plastic, which means that immune cells can lose or enhance their activity by time or can convert their activity from immune activation to tolerance and vice versa.
MODICELL sets out to improve the understanding of the complexity of immune cell responses by studying cells designed for therapies in the settings of cancer or transplantation and implement bioinformatics and in silico immune modeling to better understand the dynamics and plasticity of immune cell populations.
The ultimate goal is to identify molecular factors, patterns and pathways which leave immune cells in a robust state to mediate either anti-tumor activity or transplantation tolerance and thus can be used with high efficacy in future medical intervention.