Mini lectures

José Borghans,
Associate Professor of Immunology at  University Medical Centre Utrecht

This lecture will focus on different studies on the quantification of T-cell dynamics in healthy people and laboratory animals. It shows how the quantification of T-cell dynamics has revealed a fundamental difference in the maintenance of naive T cells between mice and humans. It also addresses the dynamics of T cells in patients after stem-cell transplantation, and shows that it is questionable whether the human immune system is capable of inducing a successful homeostatic response to low lymphocyte numbers. Finally, it focusses on recent insights into memory T-cell dynamics. We show that cellular longevity is not a key characteristic of memory T cells. Importantly, insights into immunological memory in humans are almost exclusively based on studies of cells from the blood. It has recently been suggested that the bone memory provides a niche for long-lived memory T cells that hardly recirculate through the blood and therefore go unnoticed in most immunological studies. 

Ageing, Inflammaging and Immunosenescence 

Dr. Mieke Boots,
Professor of Immunology at the Department of Rheumatology and Clinical Immunology at University Medical Centre Groningen

Age is an important risk factor for all sorts of diseases. This is because ageing has profound effects on cells and tissues of all living organisms, including those of the immune system. This lecture will introduce the concept of inflammaging, a contraction of the words inflammation and ageing, which refers to a chronic low grade inflammatory state that increases with natural ageing. In this lecture, the concept of inflammaging and its link with immunosenescence will be discussed. 

Exploring reovirus for use in oncolytic virotherapy 

Dr. Vera Kemp,
Postdoc at the department of Pathobiology,
Faculty of Veterinary Medicine at Utrecht University

One of the anti-cancer approaches that has recently gained more attention uses oncolytic viruses. These are viruses that kill transformed cells while sparing normal cells. An example is reovirus, a non-enveloped virus harboring a genome consisting of 10 dsRNA segments. Oncolytic virotherapy using reovirus has entered a variety of human clinical trials, which demonstrated both the safety and feasibility of the approach. Several aspects of this research will be discussed, including the identification of intracellular factors that facilitate the reovirus replication cycle, genetic arming of the virus with potentially therapeutic factors, and directed evolution approaches (using selection pressure) to obtain reovirus variants with e.g. a broadened tumor tropism.