Immunology, Transplantation and Infectious diseases

Cellular immunology


Group leader

Matteo Bellone


The immune system is made of cells and soluble factors, whose main function is to identify and fight what might be dangerous for the organism (e.g., virus, bacteria, exogenous proteins). Thus, innate and adaptive immune responses tightly cooperate at this task with excellent results. Is a tumor regarded as dangerous by the immune system? Tumor cells possess antigens (i.e., signals detected by the cells of the immune system) that can trigger an immune response. While in vitro and in animal models tumors elicit immune responses, spontaneous rejection of measurable tumors rarely occurs in humans. Which are therefore, the rules governing the interactions among a growing tumor, its surrounding stroma and the immune system?

Major goal of this group is to achieve a deeper understanding of the molecular events regulating the interactions among transformed cells, their surrounding stroma and the immune system during the different phases of tumor development and progression. This knowledge is then implemented to identify means whereby induce in vivo a therapeutic tumor-specific immune response. Final goal is to translate the most promising among these novel therapies into clinical trials.

Research activity

Cellular immunology Unit is currently pursuing the following lines of research:
  •  Dynamic interactions between cancer stem-like cells and the immune system in prostate cancer.
  • Cancer cell-immune cell interactions in the bone marrow driving tumor progression in multiple myeloma.
  • Targeting the tumor microenvironment to increase the therapeutic efficacy of immunotherapy.