Vidi grant for Kristina Ganzinger
Re-wiring our immune cells to fight cancer
Our immune system not only safeguards us from infection, but also cancer: immune cells are constantly surveying our bodies to find – and kill – cells that carry mutations that could turn them into cancer cells. Unluckily though, some cancer cells can escape this immune cell detection.
Promising recent cancer therapies therefore equip our immune cells with additional receptors designed by scientists that enable these cells to also kill tumor cells that previously evaded detection. However, so far these therapies can only cure few cancer types. To find working receptor designs for other cancer types has proved to be difficult: we do not even understand how exactly the existing receptors work.
Ganzinger will use advanced microscopy to understand how these synthetic receptors – called chimeric antigen receptors, or CARs – re-program immune cells. The researchers will map their action in live cells, and rebuild the minimal signaling unit from the bottom-up to truly decipher how these molecules arrange in space and time to fulfill their function. Ultimately, a better understanding of how receptor design translates to their function should aid us in finding design principles to construct new receptors against different cancers.
NWO talent scheme
Vidi is aimed at experienced researchers who have carried out successful research for a number of years after obtaining their PhDs. Together with Veni and Vici, Vidi is part of the NWO Talent Programme. Researchers in the NWO Talent Programme are free to submit their own subject for funding. NWO thus encourages curiosity-driven and innovative research. NWO selects researchers based on the quality of the researcher, the innovative character of the research, the expected scientific impact of the research proposal and the possibilities for knowledge use.
More information on this year’s Vidi grants on the website of NWO.