I am a biologist with a background related to tumor immunology. After graduating I have been working in two biotech companies that are focused on cancer immunotherapies, so I had the chance to acquire both practical experience in several wet lab techniques as well as theoretical knowledge about the interaction between the immune system and cancer cells. The PhD project is part of the CAG-personalized oncology surgery and is performed in collaboration with CAG partner Prof Susanne Brix, Department of Biomedicine and Biotechnology, Technical University of Denmark.

  • 03/2018 – 12/2018 Internship at Utrecht University (The Netherlands)
  • 05/2019 – 02/2020 Research Assistant at TC BioPharm (Glasgow, UK)
  • 01/2021 – 04/2022 Research Technician at Hookipa Biotech (Vienna, Austria)
  • 2013-2016 BSc in Biotechnology at University of Trieste (Italy)
  • 2016-2019 MSc in Medical and Pharmaceutical Biotechnology at University of Trieste (Italy)

The main rationale behind the PhD project is to provide molecular-based insight into the efficiency of different pre-surgery treatments to colorectal cancer patients in inducing tumor antigen-specific CD8+ T cells. It is highly warranted to implement pre-surgery treatments that induce activation of the tumor-specific cytotoxic arm of the immune response in order to enhance the chance for an immunologically based combat of post-surgery recurrence of cancer due to micro-metastases of tumor cells. Thirty percent of patients with colorectal cancer with successful surgery of the tumor succumb to cancer at a later stage due to micro-metastases arising either before or during surgery of the primary colonic tumor. The circulating memory T pool holds a largely untapped resource as it contains information on the individual response to all types of previously encountered antigens. This key to information on all prior immune responses is imprinted within the hypervariable regions (antigen-specificity) and the epigenome (phenotype) of our T cell compartment. In this project, we will implement a new method for combined determination of the antigen-specificity and phenotype within individual CD8+ T cells for tracking of the tumor-specific immune response upon pre-surgery treatments of colorectal cancer patients. The main objectives of the PhD project are to identify the efficiency of clinically implemented methods for pre-surgery treatment of colorectal cancer in terms of:

1) Induction of circulating and tumor residing CD8+ T cells with specificity against tumor antigens

2) Probing of the phenotypes of the tumor-specific memory immune clones in relation to patient’s remission status

3) Evaluation of which of the pre-surgery treatments are superior to the others in relation to the number of tumor antigens that the immune system remembers.

  • The Potential of Nanobody-Targeted Photodynamic Therapy to Trigger Immune Responses. by Irati Beltrán Hernández, Mathieu L. Angelier, Tommaso Del Buono D’Ondes, Alessia Di Maggio, Yingxin Yu and Sabrina Oliveira. Cancers 2020, 12(4), 978;

Research keywords

#Colorectal cancer #immunotherapy #CD8 T cell #single cell sequencing #flu vaccine