Our laboratory is situated at the health sciences campus of Gasthuisberg in research building O&N1



Design SAVANT

About

Regulated cell death (RCD) is an essential, genetically controlled, process used to eliminate damaged/defective/excessive cells, to support life. It is well established that dysregulation of apoptosis, the major form of RCD, or resistance to cell death, is a cell autonomous hallmark of cancer and contributes to the development of resistance to anticancer therapies. Both RCD and the mechanisms governing the removal of dying cells are dysregulated during carcinogenesis and contribute to the establishment of a tumor promoting and immune-suppressive microenvironment that fosters metastatic dissemination, the major cause of cancer patient’s death. This is in large part due to oncogene-driven deranged signaling circuits and pathways that support cancer cell survival and metabolic reprogramming, while shaping the crosstalk between cancer cells.

The primary goal of all anticancer therapies is to destroy tumors, by inducing cancer cell killing. In the last years it is emerging that the mechanisms of cancer cell death and the nature of the tumor microenvironment (e.g. intratumoral amount and composition of immune cells, hypoxic and metabolic status of the tumor) shape and dictate the therapeutic outcome of conventional and targeted anticancer regimens. Accordingly, recent advances in the field of anticancer therapy illustrate that increasing the capacity of cancer cell to elicit an immune response (immunogenicity) and/or inactivating immunosuppressive signals designed by developing tumors to boycott tumor-targeting immune responses (e.g. immune-checkpoints) or favoring dissemination (e.g. tumor angiogenesis), represent most valuable therapeutic avenues. In particular, the induction of cancer cell death able to reinstate, rather than suppressing, anticancer immune responses (i.e. immunosurveillance) mechanisms is a desirable therapeutic effect.

The primary goal of all anticancer therapies is to destroy tumors, by inducing cancer cell killing. In the last years it is emerging that the mechanisms of cancer cell death and the nature of the tumor microenvironment (e.g. intratumoral amount and composition of immune cells, hypoxic and metabolic status of the tumor) shape and dictate the therapeutic outcome of conventional and targeted anticancer regimens. Accordingly, recent advances in the field of anticancer therapy illustrate that increasing the capacity of cancer cell to elicit an immune response (immunogenicity) and/or inactivating immunosuppressive signals designed by developing tumors to boycott tumor-targeting immune responses (e.g. immune-checkpoints) or favoring dissemination (e.g. tumor angiogenesis), represent most valuable therapeutic avenues. In particular, the induction of cancer cell death able to reinstate, rather than suppressing, anticancer immune responses (i.e. immunosurveillance) mechanisms is a desirable therapeutic effect.

The goal of our research is thus several fold; first is to reach a better understanding of the major mechanisms that control (deranged) cancer cell death at the molecular/cellular and signaling levels. Second, is to unravel signals/immunomodulatory factors and stress pathways that impact the tumor-stroma dialogue, in order to harness these mechanisms for therapeutic benefits. Third, is to unravel the immunological consequences of dying cancer cells and exploit this knowledge to design novel therapies, with particular focus on the next generation anticancer vaccines.


ER-Mitochondria contact sites

Cancer cells intravasating into a blood vessel

Blood vessels in the skin
× Close

Where to find us:

Useful links to reach Leuven:
Official tourist page: Link
Transfer by train: Leuven is about 30min away by train from Brussels airport. Trains to Leuven leave Brussels airport approx. every 15min.
To reach Campus Gasthuisberg see this link

Contact:

To contact the lab, please send an email to: 
Patrizia Agostinis
Cell Death Research and Therapy Lab, Department of Cellular & Molecular Medicine
Faculty of Medicine
Campus Gasthuisberg, O&N I Herestraat 49 - bus 802
3000 Leuven, Belgium
Tel 003216330650,
Email: 
patrizia.agostinis@kuleuven.be