Research groups

Understanding and manipulating the immune system to fight against cancer

Image © UNIGE – Mikaël Pittet.

We aim to acquire missing knowledge needed to find better ways to fight cancer. To this end, we combine fundamental and translational studies, and focus on harnessing the immune system.

In our fundamental studies, we are discovering the complexity of immune cells in the context of inflammation and cancer. With this knowledge, we then seek to identify which immune cells suppress or promote the growth of cancer, and how they do so. These mechanisms could later be targeted with novel immunotherapies to increase our ability to fight cancer. 

In our translational studies, we are addressing how current and next-generation treatments work in vivo and in real time, and what can make them fail. To this end, we are using various approaches, including high-resolution intravital imaging. This technology is also helping us discover new treatment options, which should be effective against a broader range of tumors and in more patients.

Illustration: Intravital microscopy images showing how drugs used in immunotherapy work in real time (here, anti-PD-1 antibody (aPD-1), a drug used in cancer treatment to bind and activate T cells). The sequence of images takes place inside a tumour and follows a T-cell (in green), surrounded by several tumour cells (in red). The aPD-1 antibody (white) binds to the T-cell quickly, here after 6 minutes, but is "lost" after 30 minutes. New treatments that allow the aPD-1 antibody to bind longer to T cells may be more effective in fighting cancer.