PhD Student in Oncolytic virus Immune-Therapy - AM1218

LOVIT is a strategic alliance between the Luxembourg Institute of Health (LIH) and the German Cancer Research Center (DKFZ), established in 2017 to advance research on oncolytic virus immunotherapy. Research at LOVIT focuses on oncolytic viruses belonging to the adenovirus and parvovirus families.
1A-B, rue Thomas Edison, Strassen 1445, Luxembourg
07/12/2018 15:52:48

Oncolytic virotherapy (OVT) is a promising anti-tumour therapeutic approach which uses oncolytic viruses (OVs) to specifically kill cancer cells and elicit anti-tumour immune responses (1). However, it is important to devise novel strategies in order to enhance OVT potency and thereby improve OVT clinical outcome. This project (financed by Télévie) is carried out in collaboration with the Team of Prof. Simone Niclou (LIH, Luxembourg), Prof. Pierre Robe and Prof. Vincent Bours (University of Liege) .The project builds on complementary expertise, experimental models and promising (published and unpublished) results, which the four Teams have gathered in the last decade.

PROJECT DESCRIPTION

Glioblastomas (GBM) lack effective therapy. Recent advances in immunotherapy have revitalized the enthusiasm for an immunological approach to fight cancer. However, for brain tumors, results are still unsatisfactory, pointing to the need to improve available immunotherapies. A promising strategy is oncolytic immuno-virotherapy, as oncolytic viruses (OVs) selectively kill cancer cells and can elicit additional anti-tumor immune responses. A phase I/IIa clinical trial for GBM with OV parvovirus H-1PV had with encouraging results. We aim to enhance OV-efficacy by modifying tumor cells by genetic transfer of immunomodulators agents.  A major limitation in the field is the lack of clinically relevant in vivo models that allow to assess immune responses. Therefore we will develop novel, immunocompetent patient-derived organoid-coculture models of GBM and their recurrences.

AIMS
  • To develop patient-derived tumour organoids and establish co-cultures with autologous immune cells
  • To construct innovative viral vectors based on Adenoviruses (Ad) and Ad-parvovirus (Ad-PV) chimeras, combining oncolytic properties with the capacity to express immune-modulating therapeutic transgenes
  • To provide proof-of-principle that organoids are valid models to address immune therapeutic responses
Expected Results and potential impact
  • Develop patient-specific, high throughput, immunocompetent ex vivo models capable to assess the efficacy of immunotherapy-based anti-GBM strategies.
  • Produce proof-of-concept of enhanced anti-cancer activity of armed oncolytic viruses that can subsequently be put to clinical test.
Desired qualifications
  • The ideal candidate is highly motivated with a genuine passion for science and cancer research.
  • He/she has a great interest in oncolytic virotherapy and immunotherapy.
  • He/she is goal oriented, not afraid to challenge him/herself and take responsibilities.
  • He/she has a good background in virology, molecular biology and cell biology and likes to work in a Team.
  • Excellent verbal and written English is required. 
What we offer
  • A fully funded PhD position for 3-years
  • A very promising research project in an exciting area of research
  • The opportunity to learn state of the art laboratory methods
  • Very stimulating and positive environment
  • Participation in scientific and professional skills courses Participation in international scientific meetings and conferences
  • Career development support

REF.: VD/PHDOVI1218/AM/LOVIT
3 year fixed-term contract - Full time - Start-date: immediate

Contacts

For scientific information please send an email to : Antonio.marchini@lih.lu