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Launch of the Neuro-Immunology Group’s Newsletter

13 November 2023 6minutes

Dear Reader

Welcome to our group’s first newsletter

We are excited to share our yearly updates from our research group at the Department of Cancer Research at the Luxembourg Institute of Health. Our team has been active and engaged in various activities and we are thrilled to keep you informed about our progresses and achievements.

Publications from NIG this year

Our group has been busy publishing our research findings. Here are some of our recent publications:

PhD Student Frida Lind-Holm wrote a review on DJ-1 in Parkinson’s disease (PD) with a focus on microglia genetic programs and immunological traits. Mutations in PARK7/DJ-1 lead to early-onset PD. This is the first review discussing the role of DJ-1 in microglia and how loss of this protein dysregulates neuroinflammatory pathways mediated by microglia. DJ-1 has important neuroprotective functions, but why DJ-1 leads to PD is still being investigated. Lastly, our review discusses DJ-1 as a biomarker in PD and its potential as a therapeutic target. Read more here.

PhD student Andrea Scafidi from our group together with PhD students from NORLUX, Dr Ilaria Salvato and Pilar Sanchez, published a “News and Views” article about a novel immune checkpoint of cytotoxic T cells in cancer and its implications in allergic diseases. You can read more here.

A study conducted by Dr Aurélie Poli explored the intriguing connection between allergies and glioblastoma, a type of brain cancer. This research has been published in open-access in the journal “Allergy” and is accessible here. You can watch a video abstract of the study here. This research has garnered attention in the Luxembourgish media, including coverage in publications like “Paperjam”.

In another study carried out by Dr Maria Pavlou, a former postdoctoral fellow in our group, we conducted transcriptional and chromatin accessibility profiling showing that inflammation affects the differentiation of neural stem cells into astrocytes, a process that might contribute to the development and progression of brain diseases with an inflammatory component.   

And a lot of new papers are being drafted at the moment. So stay tuned.

NIG Conference Participations

All group members participated in The 7th Venusberg Meeting on Neuroinflammation, which this year took place in Belval in Luxembourg. Dr Aurélie Poli, Andrea Scafidi and Frida Lind-Holm each presented a poster, whereas Dr Alessandro Michelucci was selected to present our research in a blitz talk.

Here we are seen at the 7th Venusberg Meeting on Neuroinflammation

Frida Lind-Holm participated to the conference Precision Medicine in Parkinson in Luxembourg and to the 16th European meeting on Glial Cells in Health and Diseases in Berlin, where she presented her research at the Neuro-Immunology poster sessions.

Dr Alessandro Michelucci recently participated in the “Journée de la Recherche Medicale & Translationelle”, a scientific day about medical research at the Centre Hospitalier de Luxembourg. He gave a talk about experimental neuro-oncology and how we can use imaging to characterize tumors in the brain.

Dr. Aurélie Poli participated virtually in the annual meeting of the European Academy of Allergy and Clinical Immunology (EAACI) to present the annual report of the task force STRATALLON (webpage) she leads for the Working Group of AllergoOncology (webpage).

In the framework of the yearly PhD Days, where PhD students from the University of Luxembourg come together to present and discuss their science, Frida Lind-Holm and Andrea Scafidi both presented their project.  Andrea Scafidi won the PhD Days Award for Best Oral Presentation, an award worth celebrating! Read more here.

Upcoming Events

Parts of our group will participate to The Science Festival next week where kids and school classes can learn about science through fun and games.

Andrea Scafidi is going to ViB Conference “The Periphery-brain-interplay and CNS diseases” in Leuven the 14th-15th of November this year, where you can find him presenting his research with a poster.

Dr. Aurélie Poli is co-organizing the annual hybrid workshop for the STRATALLON task force, set to take place on November 16th in Barcelona and sponsored by the EAACI (webpage). This event brings together experts, which comprises basic and clinical scientists with expertise in immunology, allergic diseases, neuro-oncology, neuro-immunology, bioinformatics, and epidemiology to discuss the task force’s main objective: exploring the connection between allergies and cancer, specifically gliomas. The workshop will center on the use of advanced biomarkers and enhanced classification methods, as outlined in a just submitted position paper. It promises to be a significant step in advancing our understanding of this important topic. Frida Lind-Holm recently joined the COST ACTION Group IMMUPARKNET, which is a translational network aiming at establishing collaborations and tackling Parkinson’s research with an immunological perspective. We are looking forward to see what the working groups and events in IMMUPARKNET will bring to our research.

Work life balance is important! Therefore, we are organizing a day away from the lab in November where we will both talk about the aims of the group and have some fun together. It can now classify as a tradition as we organize this every year. Last year we had lunch and coffee and cycled together through Luxembourg City and via the Alzette river to Hesperange surrounded by beautiful nature.

Here we are in Grund after a bike trip around Luxembourg City

Our Group is expanding!

September brought us a new PhD student and we are delighted to welcome Eleonora Campus in our group. Eleonora will be working on elucidating the role of ACOD-1/IRG-1-Itaconate axis in tumor-associated myeloid cell polarization in glioblastoma. Read more about the project here.

November brought us also a visiting PhD student, Mariassunta De Luca. She works in Clinical-Experimental Neuroscience and Psychiatry at the Sapienza University of Rome and will be staying with us as a Visiting Researcher for six months. She will mainly work on the characterization of extracellular vesicles in liquid biopsies of glioblastoma mouse models and patients. November will also bring a new post-doc to our group. We are looking forward to welcome Dr Melike Gezen. Melike will be funded by a Télévie grant and will be working on characterizing the previously identified allergic-induced microglia signature.

Thank you to our supporters and funding agencies

We would like to express our gratitude to our existing supporters, including the FNR, FNRS-Télévie and Action LIONS Vaincre le Cancer and other foundations that have shown interest in our work. Your support is instrumental in helping us achieving our research goals. If you are interested in learning more about our group or exploring potential collaborations, please feel free to reach out to Dr Alessandro Michelucci.

Thank you for your continued interest in our research. We look forward to sharing more exciting updates in the coming months.

If you have any questions or suggestions, please do not hesitate to contact us. Your feedback and involvement are highly appreciated.

Warm Regards,

Frida Lind-Holm, On behalf of the Neuro-Immunology Group.


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