Cellular and Molecular Immunology
The research unit CIMM, founded by Patrick De Baetselier in 1983, initially focused on cellular immunology, mainly in the context of tumour biology. The basic themes were the analysis of immune escape mechanisms as well as the mechanisms involved in the invasive and metastatic behaviour of cancer cells. Since several common points may exist in the ways either cancer cells or parasites evade immune surveillance, cellular interactions involved in parasite immunology became a second focus of interest. Keeping up with the advances in molecular biology, the cellular work has now been broadened to include the molecular-genetic analysis of both tumour-host and parasite-host interactions. At present, this unit focuses on three major research programmes: 1. Immunobiology of cancer metastasis, with a focus on Tumour Immunity, both from a fundamental point of view and in the context of the eventual development of improved cancer immunotherapies, with further focus on the molecular and cellular mechanisms involved in Invasion and Metastasis. 2. Immunoparasitology, with Parasite Control being the major issue. This subgroup is studying on one hand the interactions between parasites and host factors, and on the other hand the mechanisms of parasite-induced immune suppression 3. Vaccine Technology, which is a recent field of research within our group, that builds upon a newly developed adjuvant-carrier system based on a Pseudomonas lipoprotein (see below). The value and potential of this system for us in vaccine design is being assessed in different pathological situations, from parasitic, viral and bacterial infections to cancer.