Impressive paper and European grant for Tom Taghon team for their (in vitro) T cell development research with important therapeutic implications


The Tom Taghon team has extensive expertise in T-cell development research in vitro and in vivo.  Recently, the team added an extra Nature Immunology paper to their track record, in which they discovered a new function for dendritic cells as hematopoietic stromal support for the early stages of human T cell development and proved that selective targeting of TNFR2 can enhance the in vitro generation of T cell precursors for clinical application.

The team also received a prestigious Novistem EIC pathfinder grant to use their gained knowledge to develop a protocol to manufacture functional, gene-corrected blood stem cells and T-cell derivatives for cell and gene therapy. More specifically, together with the team of Prof. Kevin Braeckmans, they will optimize photoporation as a non-viral gene delivery method for CRISPR-mediated gene editing of induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs) to obtain controlled CAR expression and perform gene correction. From these modified iPSCs, they will try to generate blood forming stem cells and functional CAR-T-cells by selectively targeting the crucial signaling pathways involved and identified by the team. In the end, they hope to generate a large number of diverse CAR expressing iPSC lines that might constitute the basis for off-the-shelf CAR-T-cells, reducing production costs and time.

Of note, the lead researcher of both the article as the grant is Dr. Kai Ling Liang, who received a YIPOC grant from CRIG in 2022 (more info), and used this seeding money to develop a protocol to derive blood stem cells from iPSCs. The results he obtained with his grant were crucial in writing and receiving this prestigious grant, as such indicating the true leverage effect of our grants.