Van den Eynde Group Research Overview
Immunotherapy has now come of age. The clinical successes of checkpoint inhibitors demonstrate how efficient the immune system can be in fighting cancers and bringing about long-term responses that translate into increased survival in a proportion of patients who appear to be “cured” of their metastatic disease. However, this clinical success occurs only in ~20-30% of treated patients, and in some patients is limited by autoimmune toxicity. Our work aims to increase the efficacy of immunotherapy, essentially along two lines. First, based on our extensive expertise in tumour antigens and their processing, we aim to develop next-generation cancer vaccines that are able to induce strong CD8+ T cell responses against specific tumour antigens, without inducing autoimmunity. Second, we want to understand the mechanisms that allow some tumours to resist or escape immune rejection. Our previous work in this area has indicated that the molecular definition of such mechanisms may allow the development of pharmacological approaches able to combat tumoural immune resistance and thereby increase the efficacy of immunotherapy.