Position: PhD student in Molecular Neurobiology
Promoters: Jon Laman and Bart Eggen
Research interest: Molecular changes of glial cells during development, health, and disease.
PhD project title: The negative checkpoint regulator VISTA for MS immunotherapy by driving T-cell unresponsiveness
Brief description: VISTA is a negative checkpoint regulator (NCR) expressed on antigen-presenting cells that can suppress T-cell activation. Blocking NCR using monoclonal antibodies has been used as a therapeutic strategy in the clinic to mount an immune response against cancer. Currently, VISTA is under clinical investigations as a therapeutic target for cancer treatment. In contrast, activating VISTA using agonistic antibodies can lead to T-cell unresponsiveness and reduction of symptoms in mouse models for inflammatory diseases. Therefore, targeting VISTA in the autoimmune disease multiple sclerosis may dampen the immune response and alleviate symptoms. Hence, the aim of this project is to determine expression and function of VISTA in the central nervous system during health and disease. Furthermore, the therapeutic potential of targeting VISTA in MS will be evaluated. This project is funded by the Dutch MS Research Foundation (13-833MS).