Fondation Merieux

A family foundation dedicated to fighting infectious diseases

Therapeutic vaccines: reprogramming immunity in infectious diseases, allergy and cancer

25 - 27 March 2013, Les Pensières, Annecy (France)

Background

Metaphorically speaking the evolutionary driver for having an effective and highly regulated immune system could be equated to the historical need of human societies to protect themselves against foreign invaders (i.e. infectious disease); internal revolt (i.e. cancer) or a coup d’etat (i.e. allergy). However, as it is often described in the annals of history, compromises need to be reached in order to ensure a harmonious existence. Fortunately the immune system is well adapted to do just so. Accommodations are often made for the foreign invader to live with us (chronic infection/symbiosis). Battles might be lost in order to win the war (tolerance). Unintended damage might be caused in the heat of battle (autoimmunity).

The purpose of this meeting is:

  • to discuss the underlying cellular and molecular mechanisms that allow the immune system to respond to these very diverse challenges while still remaining agile and adaptable

  • to determine what factors play a key role in the failure of the immune system to keep under control such disturbances under some specific circumstances.

During the course of the meeting we will hear presentations on the biology and virulence mechanisms of panel of pathogens associated with chronic infection (TB, Chlamydia, CMV, HSV, etc), or at the interface between cancer and infection (HPV, EBV, etc). We will attempt to understand how host factors can drive different responses to the same infection (HSV).

We will discuss what the latest developments in therapeutic vaccines against cancer can teach us about how the immune system can be re-programmed to target different antigens or used a broader set of mechanisms in order to work more effectively against cancer cells that had hitherto being allowed to proliferate almost uncontrollably.

Finally we will look at the opposite end of the spectrum of allergy and learn of those situations where an overt immune response can be re-educated or seemingly obliterated to prevent or limit unintended damage to the host.

Looking of these diverse situations as part of a continuum will be helpful in leveraging our transversal understanding of the common drivers and underpinning mechanisms that can be availed of to develop novel and disruptive therapeutic vaccines effective against infectious diseases, allergy and cancer. A privilege emphasis will be given as much as possible to approaches for which a successful translatability to humans has already been explored.

Programme486.2 kb pdf

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