The Van den Eynde Lab studies how cancer immunotherapy can be improved by developing new vaccine approaches aimed at increasing the number of anti-tumor T lymphocytes. In collaboration with the twin Van den Eynde Lab in Oxford, new vaccine approaches are developed based on the Oxford vaccine platform using viral vectors (ChAdOX and MVA), which were used in the Oxford/AstraZeneca Covid vaccine. Based on their preclinical work, a vaccine targeting tumor antigens MAGEA3 and NY-ESO1 is being tested in lung cancer patients in the UK.
The Van den Eynde Lab also studies the role of mitochondria in antigen processing and presentation, based on their finding that synthetic long peptides, which are currently used as cancer vaccines, involve mitochondria in their mechanism of action.
In collaboration with the Zhu Lab, the Van den Eynde Lab also aims to characterize immunosuppressive mechanisms taking place in the tumor microenvironment, with the aim of finding new druggable targets that can be acted upon to improve tumor rejection. One focus is on tryptophan catabolism by IDO and TDO, two enzymes that degrade tryptophan in the tumor microenvironment and thereby suppress anti-tumor immunity.
The aim of the Van den Eynde Lab is to identify new targets against which drugs can be developed to increase the efficacy of cancer immunotherapy. Their work has already led to the creation of two biotech companies that are developing new drugs for cancer therapy.