Immunology, Transplantation and Infectious diseases

Immunogenetics, Leukemia Genomics and Immunobiology

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Head of Unit

Luca Vago

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Allogeneic Hematopoietic Stem Cell Transplantation (allo-HSCT) represents the most effective therapeutic strategy for numerous hematologic cancers, including Acute Myeloid Leukemia (AML). In fact, allo-HSCT combines high-dose chemotherapy with the potent antitumor activity mediated by the transplanted immune system. Nevertheless, residual leukemic cells are frequently able to enact mechanisms to escape from immune elimination, outgrow, and ultimately result in clinical disease recurrence. Even if apparently indistinguishable from disease at diagnosis, relapses commonly display a more aggressive behavior, and most of the available therapeutic options are largely ineffective.

Research activity

The main focus of this research group is to advance knowledge on the complex interplays between the transplanted immune system and leukemia, and to dissect the molecular mechanisms at the basis of leukemia immune evasion and relapse.

As of May 2018, the main projects of the group are:

  1. Providing novel insights into the molecular, immunological and clinical determinants of HLA loss, a frequent mechanism of leukemia immune escape first described by our group (Vago et al, N Eng J Med, 2009).
  2. Identifying new genomic and non-genomics mechanisms of leukemia immune evasion and relapse by cutting next-generation sequencing technologies.
  3. Combining patient-derived xenografts and genetic engineering technologies to model in vivo the complex interplay between immune system and leukemia.