prof. Jan Tavernier (PhD)

CRIG group leader
Jan Tavernier

Principal investigator -  Receptor Research Laboratories, VIB Medical Biotechnology Center (UGent) 
Emeritus professor (Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences, UGent)
CTO (Orionis Biosciences)


Research focus

Systemic toxicity still prevents full clinical application of cytokines such as type I Interferons (IFNs), Interleukin-1 (IL-1) or Tumor Necrosis Factor (TNF). Whereas immunocytokines (cytokines equipped with a targeting antibody) display a 10-fold increased activity on target cells, off-target side effects experienced by patients are expected to remain a major obstacle. AcTakines (Activity-on-Target cytokines) resemble classical immunocytokines but employ mutant cytokines with reduced binding affinity for their cognate receptor complex. These modifications cause AcTakines to remain inactive 'en route' through the body and to unveil their activity only on specifically targeted cell types which greatly reduces undesired side effects and toxicity. See also Garcin et al. (2014, Nature Communications). Since 2015, several AcTakines are being analyzed as possible generic and safe anti-tumor treatments.

Research team

Key publications

  • Cauwels et al. Cancer Res , 2018 (PMID: 29187401) 
  • Cauwels et al. Oncoimmunol , 2017 (PMID: 29399401) 
  • 'OTUB1 triggers lung cancer development by inhibiting RAS monoubiquitination', Embo Molecular Medicine, 2016 (PMID: 26881969)  
  • 'An abnormally glycosylated isoform of erythropoietin in hemangioblastoma is associated with polycythemia', Clinica Chimica Acta, 2015 (PMID: 25245675)
  • 'High efficiency targeting of IFN-alpha activity: Possible applications in fighting tumours and infections', Cytokine Growth Factor Reviews, 2014. (PMID: 25466630)
  • 'The anti-tumor activity of a neutralizing nanobody targeting leptin receptor in a mouse model of melanoma', PLoS One 9, 2014 (PMID: 24587106)
  • 'High efficiency cell-specific targeting of cytokine activity', Nature Communications, 2014 (PMID: 24398568).
  • 'Alternatively spliced NKp30 isoforms affect the prognosis of gastrointestinal stromal tumors', Nature Medicine, 2001 (PMID: 21552268)
  • 'CD248 facilitates tumor growth via its cytoplasmic domain', BMC Cancer, 2011 (PMID: 21549007)

Contact & info