The Laboratory of Experimental Hematology (LEH) of the University of Antwerp, headed by Prof. Zwi Berneman, has a track record on the induction of anti-tumoral and antiviral cellular immune responses by a special subset of leukocytes, called dendritic cells.
LEH focus on the mechanisms of T cell immunity and tolerance by studying the immuno-biology of dendritic cells. More specifically, they elucidate the cellular processes and interactions involved in the activation of effector T cells by antigen-presenting cells that are able to destroy tumor cells and virally infected cells or, in case of auto-immunity, normal cells in the body, such as in Multiple Sclerosis.
For the former, activation of effector lymphocytes (T cells, NK cells) with killing activities towards cancer cells and virally infected cells is pursued through interaction with immunostimulatory dendritic cells (Tumor Immunology Group (TIGR) headed by Dr Eva Lion).
For the latter, modulation of auto-immune effector T cell function by naturally occurring and induced regulatory T cell subsets is one of their primary research interests coordinated by Dr. Nathalie Cools.
In collaboration with Centre for Evaluation of Vaccines (CEV), LEH investigate cellular immunity in vaccinees and a possible correlation with the humoral response characterised by antibody formation. LEH has a great expertise in phase I therapeutic vaccination programmes in leukaemia, HIV and allotransplant patients using autologous antigen-loaded dendritic cell vaccines.
They also run a large research programme on stem cell immunology, headed by Dr. Peter Ponsaerts, in which they are interested in the transplantation effects of autologous and allogeneic adult stem cells in small animal models in order to study the survival, migration and function of transplanted stem cells (headed by prof. Peter Ponsaerts).
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