Cellular reprogramming can be achieved experimentally in different ways, including nuclear transfer, cell fusion or expression of transcription factors, mainly explored in regenerative medicine. At Lund University, we have recently pioneered cell fate reprogramming approaches in immunology with induced dendritic cells (Rosa et al, Science Immunology 2018). This conceptual shift opens exciting opportunities to merge cellular reprogramming and cancer immunotherapy. Asgard Therapeutics is using dendritic cell reprogramming to develop an innovative cancer immunotherapy aiming at reinstating immunological competence of established tumors. We have generated proof-of-concept data supporting the feasibility of reprogramming mouse and human cancer cells into induced dendritic cells. Asgard is now seeking a highly motivated scientist to address the efficacy and safety of this therapeutic approach in mouse models and advance dendritic cell reprogramming into the clinics.
Research activities will be performed at the Cell Reprogramming in Hematopoiesis and Immunity Lab at Lund University (https://bit.ly/2Ukj143), which is generously funded by the NovoNordisk foundation and an ERC consolidator grant in addition to Wallenberg Centre for Molecular Medicine, Swedish research council and Swedish cancer foundation. Collaboration between Asgard Therapeutics and the Cell Reprogramming in Hematopoiesis and Immunity Lab will be critical for developing dendritic cell reprogramming into an entirely new gene therapy for cancer treatment.
General description of the project:
Cancer immunotherapies use the body’s own immune system to help fight cancer. Despite significant strides dedicated to developing novel immunotherapies, currently available treatments are highly effective in only a small proportion of patients. Cancer is a large family of diseases with a complicated diversity of causes and characteristics, increasing the difficulty of achieving personalised and effective treatments. Cancer cells develop mechanisms to escape destruction by the immune system, including decreased antigen presentation. The current project aims to develop a Trojan horse therapy to enter tumours and incite revolution, by reprogramming cancer cells to become traitors to their kind. The goal is to prove that intra-tumoural injection of the reprogramming factors as a gene therapy makes cancer cells become antigen presenting dendritic cells, bypassing cancer evasion mechanisms in an off-the-shelf, completely personalised therapy.
Rosa FF, Pires CF, Kurochkin I, Ferreira AG, Gomes A, Palma LG, Shaiv K, Solanas L, Azenha C, Papatsenko D, Schulz O, Reis e Sousa C, Pereira CF. Direct Reprogramming Fibroblasts into Antigen-Presenting Dendritic Cells. Science Immunology 2018, 7, 3 (30).
The candidate should be an enthusiastic and motivated scientist, with a background in immunology or oncobiology willing to work on the interception between a cancer immunotherapy start-up company and a young international research group in a highly dynamic and multidisciplinary environment (with English as main language). Candidates with a passion for tumor immunology, cell fate reprogramming and developing novel cancer immunotherapies who recently completed their PhD thesis or currently finishing up are encouraged to apply. The ideal candidate should have wide experience with tumor models in mice, flow cytometry and immunophenotyping. Specific responsibilities include planning and performing in vitro and in vivo experiments, analyzing data, and communicating results. Excellent verbal and written communication skills in English are required.
About the employer and lab:
Asgard Therapeutics AB
Asgard Therapeutics was founded in 2018 as a spin-off from Lund University aiming to advance cancer immunotherapies by developing a paradigm-shifting gene therapy – TrojanDC. Driven by the urgent need for new cost-effective immunotherapies consistently effective in a broad range of patients, Asgard is developing the world’s first cancer immunotherapy based on direct cell reprogramming, forcing cancer cells to become immunogenic and unleashing the system against cancer.
Cell Reprogramming in Hematopoiesis and Immunity Lab (PI: Filipe Pereira), Lund University, Sweden
Lund University is Scandinavia’s largest institution for education and research and consistently ranks among the world’s top 100 universities. Lund Stem Cell Center hosts 15 research groups in experimental hematology and is one of Europe’s most prominent in the field of hematopoietic research. This environment has all facilities and equipment essential for the project including a large animal facility, technical platforms for flow cytometry and cell sorting, viral vector and single cell genomics facilities. The Lund Stem Cell Center, The Wallenberg Center for Molecular Medicine and the Lund University Cancer Center create a very interactive and stimulating environment with weekly seminars and annual retreats for students, postdocs and PIs.
Interested individuals should send a cover letter outlining their interest in this position, a CV, and the names and contact information for two references. Only shortlisted candidates will be contacted.