dr. João P Portela Catani (PhD)

CRIG member

Postdoctoral researcher - Postdoctoral researcher - VIB-UGent Center for Medical Biotechnology
(PI: prof. Xavier Saelens (PhD))

Research focus

The amazing ability of the immune system to recognize and modulate atypical micro-environments (tumor, inflammation) makes it the perfect weapon to fight cancer. However the high complexity of molecular pathways and cell populations involved in mounting the anti-tumor response makes the immunotherapies ineffective in a high percentage of patients. Expanding its benefits possibly goes through the development of combined therapies 
Supported by CRIG young investigator grant,  I started to work with an immune stimulatory mRNA able to simultaneously overexpress exogenous proteins and downregulate endogenous proteins. Such strategy would enable inhibition of immunosuppressive pathways at the same time that cancer associated antigens or co-stimulatory molecules are expressed. 
Currently, my research is focused on influenza immunity. Influenza is annually responsible for about 500.000 deaths worldwide. The current Flu vaccines need to be updated every season and its effectiveness ranges from 19-60%. Defining better the breadth and immunogenicity of influenza A and B envelop proteins can offer a rational for the development of an improved supra-seasonal vaccine.

Key publications

  • Immunogenicity and Protection Efficacy of a Naked Self-Replicating mRNA-Based Zika Virus Vaccine. Vaccines (Basel). 2019 (PMID:31450775)
  • Bovine Embryo-Secreted microRNA-30c Is a Potential Non-invasive Biomarker for Hampered Preimplantation Developmental Competence. Front Genet. 2019 (PMID:31024625)
  • Lymph-Node-Targeted Immune Activation by Engineered Block Copolymer Amphiphiles-TLR7/8 Agonist Conjugates. J Am Chem Soc. 2018 (PMID: 30277761)
  • Nanoparticle-Conjugate TLR7/8 Agonist Localized Immunotherapy Provokes Safe Antitumoral Responses. Adv Mater. 2018 (PMID: 30276880)
  • Uncovering the immunotherapeutic cycle initiated by p19Arf and interferon-β gene transfer to cancer cells: An inducer of immunogenic cell death.Oncoimmunology. 2017 (PMID: 28811972)
  • Near future of tumor immunology: Anticipating resistance mechanisms to immunotherapies, a big challenge for clinical trials. Human Vaccines & Immunotherapeutics, 2017. ( PMID:28059608)
  • Intratumoral immunization by p19Arf and interferon-beta gene transfer in a heterotopic mouse model of lung carcinoma. Translational Oncology, 2016. ( PMID:27916291 ) 
  • Vaccination using melanoma cells treated with p19arf and interferon beta gene transfer in a mouse model: a novel combination for cancer immunotherapy. Cancer Immunol Immunother. 2016 (PMID: 26887933)
  • Defective immunogenic cell death of HMGB1-deficient tumors: compensatory therapy with TLR4 agonists. Cell Death Differ. 2014 (PMID: 23811849)
  • CCL2/CCR2-dependent recruitment of functional antigen-presenting cells into tumors upon chemotherapy. Cancer Res. 2014  (PMID: 24302580)
  • Anticancer chemotherapy-induced intratumoral recruitment and differentiation of antigen-presenting cells. Immunity. 2013 (PMID: 23562161)

Contact & links