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Luciana D'Apice

Research Focus : New strategies for targeted immunotherapy

Group Leader : Piergiuseppe De Berardinis

Two major projects are carried out in the lab:

1)    Development of new antigen delivery systems.

We mainly work on the phage display platform as a vehicle able to induce antigen-specific cytotoxic T cells and we perform the analysis of the in vitro and in vivo immune response to the delivered antigens, using wild type and transgenic mouse models. We have demonstrated that the administration of recombinant bacteriophage displaying tumor-associated antigens is able to generate protective immune response inhibiting tumor growth in animal models. We also have engineered fd vectors for targeting dendritic cells, and reported the ability of bacteriophage particles, delivered to dendritic cells via the C-type lectin receptor DEC-205, to confer adjuvanticity and activate both innate and adaptive immune responses. 

2)    Guided TCR pairing.

Cellular therapy using T cells transduced with TCR genes specific for relevant pathogens is an appealing therapeutic strategy. A major limitation is caused by the formation of hybrid TCR molecules between the transduced and the endogenous TCR chains, which may have unpredictable specificity with potential autoreactivity. To prevent that, we have developed a technology based on transmembrane modifications of alpha and beta TCR chains. Preclinal data indicate that this technique, which requires minimal manipulation, is able to promote the correct pairing of the transferred TCR chains, and thus may have relevance for translational application in adoptive T cell therapy.

Key Publications

Patent 

Patent n. RM2014A000632 “Varianti del recettore delle cellule T e loro uso nella terapia tumorale” Authors: P. De Berardinis, L. D’Apice, U. Oreste.

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