Patients with bladder cancer are often treated with intravesical instillations of Bacillus Calmette Guérin (BCG), which is the vaccine against tuberculosis. Even though this treatment has been used for decades, its mode of action is unclear, making it difficult to predict which patients will respond or to improve the treatment. Using tissues collected from patients before and after BCG therapy, we explore the role of T lymphocytes, a type of immune cells, during BCG therapy.
Another work of the lab involves interleukin-1ß (Il-1ß), a potent inflammatory cytokine (a kind of hormone used by immune cells to send signals to neighbouring cells). While it is well known that IL-1ß can be released by dying cells, we and others have observed that it can be released also by living cells. The mechanism of this release, which is distinct from classical 'secretion', is unknown. We have set up an in vitro model to understand this pathway, which may be important during chronic inflammatory diseases.
Finally, we have a collaboration with the Intensive Care Unit of the Cliniques Universitaires St Luc to understand the cause of the immunosuppression that is observed in patients that survive 'sepsis', a life-threatening inflammation that can occur after an infection.