In recent years, the increasing commitment of TLS to in-house research has produced a significant growth of the scientific contribution of the foundation’s researchers
TUMOUR IMMUNOLOGY UNIT
TUMour Immunology (TUMI) unit led by Dr. Anna Kabanova was established with a support of the Italian Association for Cancer Research program called “My First AIRC grant”. My First AIRC aims to support young researchers in establishing independent laboratories to pursue cancer-related research.
TUMI team aims at getting deeper understanding of the mechanisms ensuring that some tumours are slower in the development than others and to harness this knowledge for therapy development. Specifically, we are interested in studying one of the most frequent tumours of B lymphocytes, the B-cell chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL), which is characterized by high incidence of indolent cases, suggesting that a molecular network suppressing tumour progression might be in place in CLL. Our knowledge on this network and its regulation is relatively fragmentary, therefore we aim to deepen it and use it to treat aggressive B cell tumours.
Molecular factors regulating B cell fitness and its relevance for CLL pathogenesis
CLL cells are endowed with a number of peculiar characteristics, including the expression of particular inhibitory immune receptors, such as ILT3, and various intracellular signaling proteins, which undergo dynamic redistribution upon CLL cell stimulation. We combine the state-of-the-art imaging, molecular and signaling studies to characterize functional significance of this process. Also, by a combination of proteomics, transcriptomics and gene editing approaches in vitro and in vivo, we study CLL-specific gene networks which inhibit B cell tumour development. Results of this study may allow us to understand better the biology of this disease and also may form a rationale for the development of novel therapeutic approaches to treat aggressive CLL, since about 30-40% of treated CLL tend to relapse. This expectation might be extended to other B cell lymphoproliferative disorders, because of the common cellular source of the tumour.
mRNA therapy to treat B cell tumours and to mimic B cell-promoted immunity
TUMI team is particularly interested in applying mRNA technologies as immunotherapeutics to treat CLL. To cultivate inner expertise and learn more about this cutting-edge versatile technology, we are currently collaborating with the Monoclonal Discovery lab lead in TLS by Dr. Rino Rappuoli and coordinated by Dr. Claudia Sala. TUMI is helping MAD lab to set up experimental pipelines for efficient and fast characterization of hundreds of anti-bacterial mAbs, formulated as mRNA, that are being developed to counteract the uprising threat of antimicrobial resistance (AMR). The project is supported by Wellcome Leap R3 consortium.
Tumour Immunology Unit Principal Investigator: Anna Kabanova