03/02/2011 - Press release
This project of international cooperation, which has received funding of one million euro from the European Union South West Europe Development Programme (SUDOE), has been given the name CLINK (New immunotherapy protocols: the production of activated NK cells for clinical use).
The aim of the CLINK project is to develop various protocols for the “in vitro” activation and expansion of a type of immune system cell which is important for combating certain infections and tumours, called a natural killer cell (NK cell). The consortium will attempt to find an ideal system for activating these cells which would allow the largest number of cells to be obtained from one single donor and at the same time provide them with greater ability to kill tumours.
Once the appropriate conditions have been set up, they will seek to use the cells in the treatment of haematological tumours. Some French hospitals, such as the hospitals in Montpellier and Nimes, are currently beginning to apply these cells to pilot studies on cancer immunotherapy.
The consortium, which is made up of six groups, is coordinated by Dr. Alberto Anel of the University of Zaragoza, and receives the participation of Dr. Miguel López Botet, coordinator of the IMIM research group on Immunity and Infection and Professor of Immunology in the UPF (DCEXS), and Dr. Carlos Vilches from the Hospital Puerta de Hierro (Universidad Autónoma de Madrid), both of whom are experts on the biology of these cells. They will work together with researchers and haematologists from the University Hospitals of Montpellier and Nimes who are in charge of the more clinical part, and with the University of Toulouse where the synthesis of the organic compounds for activating the NK cells will be performed.