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Pogge von Strandmann Lab
Institute for Tumor Immunology

Immune cells are often recruited into the malignant tissue, where they are reprogammed not to damage the malignant cells but to support tumour growth. With focus on Natural killer (NK)- cells we investigate how malignant cells communicate with host immune cells to establish the tumor microenvironment.

The NK cell-dependent immune surveillance appears to be particularly effective in the early stages of tumour growth. The inducible surface expression of ligands for activating NK cell receptors on target cells is regarded as an early "stress signal" and indicative for mutations even before malignant transformation occurs. Persistent surface expression of ligands on target cells and the proteolytic formation of soluble ligands, on the other hand, may inhibit the specific immune response and enhance tumour progression. Recently, we identified extracellular vesicles (EVs) as imortant regulators of NK cell activity. We aim to explore the impact of extracellular vesicles in cell-to-cell communication, within the tumor microenvironment. To this end we analyze the differential cargo loading of tumor cell-derived EVs and investigate the pathways responsible for their biogenesis. Based on the better understanding of relevant receptor ligand interactions (soluble, membrane bound or via vesicles) we develop NK cell-based therapeutic concepts to combat cancer using recombinant proteins (immunoligands).

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