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Why do cancer cells elude our immune system?


A new team headed up by Italian researcher Felice-Alessio Bava is attempting to answer this question. Dr. Bava recently joined Institut Curie’s Genotoxic Stress and Cancer Unit at Orsay.

After writing his thesis on RNA mechanisms at the Center for Genomic Regulation (CRG) and the Institute for Research in Biomedicine (IRG), Barcelona, Alessio Bava completed his postdoc at Stanford, USA, on Highly multiplexed simultaneous detection of RNAs and proteins in single cells  and other single-cell technologies that he developed and applied to the field of cancer immunology.

Since April 2018, Bava has led the Gene Regulation of the Immune Response to Cancer team at Institut Curie (Inserm/Institut Curie), which also comprises a research engineer and a postdoctoral student. The team is currently looking to recruit a PhD student and two postdoctoral researchers. The laboratory has received funding from the French Foundation for Medical Research (FRM), Bristol-Myers Squibb, CNRS, MRA and Inserm, among others.

A gene regulation approach to immunology

To understand why immune system cells are incapable of destroying cancer cells, the team studies their interactions from various angles. The researchers’ focus is on the molecular changes that occur when these two types of cell meet.

To observe the zones and cell mechanisms involved in these interactions, the scientists are developing new technologies that enable observation at single-cell level, combined with 3D imaging techniques and cytometry.

The aim is to discover how we can intervene in gene expression to restore immune cells’ ability to combat cancer cells.