One million for research into cancer therapies for ICCVS

Pictured is the team from the International Centre for Cancer Vaccine Science at the University of Gdańsk.

The International Centre for Cancer Vaccine Science at the University of Gdańsk has received more than one million PLN in additional funding from the Foundation for Polish Science for a project carried out under the International Research Agendas programme. This is the highest-financed scientific research project currently underway at the University of Gdańsk, with a total research grant of PLN 42,122,280.

An interdisciplinary team of scientists at the International Centre for Cancer Vaccine Science (ICCVS) is conducting research with the common aim of developing cancer vaccines and new diagnostic and prognostic strategies for cancer.

Work on lung cancer vaccine underway

The Centre's research is currently focused on developing a personalised cellular vaccine against non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC). The team, led by ICCVS director Prof. Natalia Marek- Trzonkowska, has developed an algorithm to identify and sort lymphocytes from a patient's blood that specifically recognise and destroy cancer cells. The first in vitro and in vivo studies are very promising. The team estimates that it will be possible to start clinical trials within five years.

'We are working on a personalised cell vaccine for the treatment of lung cancer. The drug will be produced individually for each patient. We believe that tumours are characterised by so much variability that it would be ineffective to apply the same cell vaccine to all patients,' - says prof. dr hab. Natalia Marek-Trzonkowska, director of the International Centre for Cancer Vaccine Science. - 'For therapy, we use cells of the immune system, something that occurs naturally in the body. We would like to prepare these cells so that they are insensitive to the immunosuppressive effects of cancer. Perhaps later we can use this knowledge to prepare vaccines targeting other cancers, adds the professor.'

Understanding how the immune system recognises cancer and how it interacts with it - are the main interests of the ICCVS researchers. For cancer to develop, cancer cells must learn to evade and/or suppress the immune response. Therefore, the Centre is conducting immunopeptidomics research on antigen presentation, a critical aspect of which is the identification of neoantigens, or antigens unique to cancer cells. Neoantigens are ideal candidates for the development of peptide-based cancer vaccines, as well as a very important part of the development of cell-based cancer therapies.

Cancer research in animals

The ICCVS team also sees great potential in comparative and evolutionary biology. The researchers have developed so-called caninised (canine-like) antibodies that will find application in cancer research in companion animals. The researchers believe that by studying tumours that have developed in dogs living in our homes, we can often learn much more than by studying laboratory animals in which tumours are artificially induced. In addition, ICCVS researchers have just published revolutionary results on elephant genetics that provide clues and tools for the development of new anti-tumour strategies. ICCVS researchers have also recently discovered that regulatory T cells (Tregs) internalise mitochondria from a variety of other cells, including cells from unrelated donors, in a manner dependent on the major tissue compatibility system (HLA) antigens, which enhances their immunosuppressive activity. This intriguing phenomenon will find applications not only in future anti-cancer therapies but also in transplantation and the treatment of autoimmune diseases.

Work to date has resulted in important discoveries, patent applications and innovative developments, published in respected journals such as Nature Methods, Nature Communications Molecular Biology and Evolution.

Selected scientific publications:

Padariya M, Jooste M, Hupp T, Fåhraeus R, Vojtesek B, Vollrath F, Kalathiya U, Karakostis K, The Elephant Evolved p53 Isoforms that Escape MDM2-Mediated Repression and Cancer, Molecular Biology and Evolution, Volume 39, Issue 7, July 2022, msac149,

Piekarska K, Urban-Wójciuk ZKurkowiak M, Pelikant-Małecka I, Schumacher A, Sakowska J, Spodnik JH, Arcimowicz Ł, Zielińska H, Tymoniuk B, Renkielska A, Siebert J, Słomińska E, Trzonkowski P, Hupp T & Marek-Trzonkowska NMesenchymal stem cells stransfer mitochondria to allogeneic Tregs in an HLA-dependent manner improving their immunosuppressive activityNature Communications, 14 February 2022, doi: 10.1038/s41467-022-28338-0  Alfaro JA, Bohländer P, Dai M, Filius M, Howard CJ, Kooten XF, Ohayon S, Pomorski A, Schmid S, Aksimentiev A, Anslyn EV, Bedran G, Cao C, Chinappi M, Coyaud E, Dekker C, Dittmar G, Drachman N, Eelkema R, Goodlett D, Hentz S, Kalathiya U, Kelleher NL, Kelly RT, Kelman Z, Kim SH, Kuster B, Rodriguez-Larrea D, Lindsay S, Maglia G, Marcotte EM, Marino JP, Masselon C, Mayer M, Samaras P, Sarthak K, Sepiashvili L, Stein D, Wanunu M, Wilhelm M Yin P, Meller A, Joo C, The emerging landscape of single-molecule protein sequencing technologiesNature Methods, 7 June 2021, doi: 10.1038/s41592-021-01143-1

Read more:


The project 'International Centre for Cancer Vaccine Science' received funding from the Foundation for Polish Science programme entitled 'International Research Agendas', financed by the European Regional Development Fund within the framework of the Operational Programme Intelligent Development, Axis IV: Increasing scientific and research potential, Measure 4.3. International Research Agendas.
EMW / Press Office UG