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News

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July 2024 Masterclass – Development of Vaccines against Infectious Diseases: BioNTech perspective

As part of the LUF-Boerhaave professorship program of Prof Ugur Sahin On behalf of the Leiden Vaccine Group, Themes Infection and Immunity, Simone Joosten (LUCID) and Ramon Arens (IMMU) hosted a masterclass for PhD students and postdocs on vaccine development in follow up of the LUF- Boerhaave professorship to Prof Ugur Sahin earlier this year. We are very happy that Drs Louis Ates and Kellen Fae from BioNTech came to LUMC to present their experience developing vaccines against infectious diseases from basic discovery until clinical evaluation. They provided insights in development processes and choices made during the development of the mRNA vaccine against tuberculosis but also shared their personal career path. In particular during the round table discussions important lessons were learned. Participants were actively engaged in discussions, asked many excellent questions and had plenty interactions with our guests from BioNTech. Afterwards there were networking drinks. We thank all for their contributions and look forward to another masterclass in fall.

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July 2024 - Program Workshop on “LUMC Research on Tuberculosis and Leprosy”

On 24 th and 25 th of June our Mycobacterial research group hosted researchers from the Faculty of Public Health of Universitas AIRLANGGA, Surabaya, Indonesia with the aim to provide capacity building on Research in Tuberculosis. Airlangga staff members participating in this outbound staff mobility program included Dr. Corie Indria Prasasti (Environmental Health), Dr. Abdul Rohim Tualeka (Occupational Health and Safety), Prof. Dr. Nyoman Anita Damayanti (Health Policy and Administration) and Dr. M. Atoillah Isfandiari (Epidemiology).

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June 2024 - Collaboration for TB vaccine Discovery

The mycobacterial research group is well connected to the ‘Collaboration for TB vaccine Discovery’ (CTVD) hosted by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation (BMGF). On the annual meeting this year we were invited to join with 4 members! Tom Ottenhoff and Simone Joosten as members, and former co-chairs, of the research communities on Donor Unrestricted T cells and B-cell & Antibodies. Simone also gave the opening plenary lecture of the meeting, an update on trained innate immunity and protection from TB. In addition, Paula Niewold and Linda Voogd were invited as early career researchers to join the meeting and present posters on their work. Paula also gave a superb presentation on imaging TB granulomas. We are proud to be part of CTVD and the network it provides to our team.

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June 2024

'don't tell anyone about your diagnosis with TB, otherwise you will be branded for life' Artist, activist and TB survivor, Paulina Siniatkina, told her very personal story to our lab. Paulina was treated in a Russian TB hospital for pulmonary TB, a period that has dramatically impacted her life. Already in hospital she started to make art works to tell her story as well as that of others whom are treated for TB. She now is determined to contribute to end TB and reduce the stigma on TB. She shared some impressive stories, including those from friends that refused new drugs against TB because they were too scared of the drugs themselves and unfortunately succumbed from TB. Thus, very important also for our team of scientists to hear the experience from a patient and her chamber-mates, which may change our views on implementation of new drugs or vaccines into clinical treatment. If your are interested, please read her full story and view several of her art works on her website: www.paulinasiniatkina.com

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May 2024 – Publication award

We proudly share that our paper has been selected as the best paper published in Cytometry part A in 2023. The prize was awarded by editor-in-chief Attila Tarnok to Paula Niewold during the CYTO 2024 meeting in Edinburgh, Scotland. The paper entitled: 'Extensive flow cytometric immunophenotyping of human PBMC incorporating detection of chemokine receptors, cytokines and tetramers.’ by Marjolein van Wolfswinkel, Krista E van Meijgaarden, Tom HM Ottenhoff, Paula Niewold & Simone A Joosten was published in early 2023 and describes our optimized staining protocol to combine different marker classes in a spectral flow cytometry panel. We are grateful to the LUMC flow cytometry core facility for their help in establishing spectral flow in our lab.

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April 2024  Pre Print cake!

LUMC promotes to open up research and share results with the world in early stages, even before peer review and formal acceptance by a journal. To stimulate this form of open science, LUMC aims to identify monthly which data from LUMC teams were shared on pre-print servers and awards a cake to one of them. In April our team was the lucky winner, with a paper describing our study on Covid-19 in the LUMC collaborative BEAT-COVID cohort! A nice cake featuring the title of our submitted manuscript as well as part of figure 1 was delivered to our department.

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Lessons (to be) learned

Last week we celebrated more than 4 decades of excellent research in Mycobacterial diseases at the Leiden University Medical Center during the symposium organized in honor of the retirement of Prof. Dr. Tom H.M. Ottenhoff, entitled "Lessons (to be) learned". Presentations featured key scientists (young and older) who have worked, or still work in the LUMC Mycobacterial lab (https://lnkd.in/es9A6rJJ). The symposium covered a variety of research topics in which the "Myco-lab" is/ has been engaged such as Basic Immunology, Vaccines, AMR, HDT, Biomarker identification and Diagnostics, showing what science can deliver and do for global health. Moreover, lessons on strategy to build and maintain a successful (research) team showed that a sports mentality is also vital for research groups.

Eleonora Vianello

March 2024

Our former colleague Eleonora Vianello is currently available as independent consultant for data analysis projects. Eleonora has gained great skills in data analysis over the last couple of years in our team, in particular in relation to vaccine induced immunity and biomarkers, and is a very nice person to work with. If you are interested in her consultancy services, please find additional information attached and feel free to contact her directly.

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February 2024

Our PhD candidate Linda Voogd just published a paper in iScience on the diversity of the T-cell receptor repertoire of HLA-E restricted T-cells. HLA-E is one of our innovative vaccination targets as it is a virtually non-variable antigen presentation molecule. Long-term work of our team has shown that fragments from Mtb can be presented to the adaptive immune system. Linda has now shown that the T-cells recognizing these Mtb fragments in HLA-E are highly diverse almost as the full T-cell repertoire. Thus HLA-E restricted T-cells despite being a DURT population are diverse. Linda will continue her work on the characterization of HLA-E restricted responses.

Click here for the full acrticle

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BCG Vaccination & immune activation 

(January 2024)

We are pleased to share our latest work, by PhD candidate Krista van Meijgaarden, just published in Nature Communications where we combined the functional analysis of anti-mycobacterial effector responses with single cell RNA sequencing. We identified different expression profiles associated in individuals that showed natural protection versus those that acquire control upon BCG vaccination.  Natural protection is associated with type I IFN responses and reduced metabolic activity, represented by increased oxidative phosphorylation, whereas BCG induced protection is associated with Th1 immunity and increased metabolic activity reflected by a glycolytic shift called the Warburg effect. In a new BCG vaccination study that will start in 2024 we will look further in these different mechanisms of protection in relation to vaccine induced immunity.

Click here for the full acrticle

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Our BSL-3 facilities have been updated!

(December 2023)

BSL-3 facilities are critical for our work with live mycobacteria, these facilities need regular service and maintenance. This month a new autoclave has been installed in our mycobacterial BSL-3 lab, not trivial as we use a large built-in destruction autoclave for all BSL-3 waste. At the moment the autoclave is being validated so it will soon be ready to use. Beginning of 2024 our recently serviced lab will reopen with extra lab space and a shiny new autoclave, completing our state-of-the-art mycobacterial BSL-3. So we are ready for lots of new experiments the coming years.

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We are recruiting! (December 2023)

We are looking for a PhD candidate as well as a research technician to join our vaccine immunology team. Our new team members will be involved in immunological assessment of vaccines against tuberculosis, in particular BCG vaccination in humans.

Interested, please apply before January 2nd via the LUMC website only!

Click here and here for the vacancies

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Olink-certified lab (November 2023)

As of November this year, our lab officially became an Olink-certified sample analysis lab. This means we are now able to perform high-quality and high-throughput proteomics using Olink’s protein biomarker platform, which enables multiplex immunoassays with minimal volumes of almost any type of biological sample. Or simply, we can measure levels of more than 100 proteins simultaneously in 1 µl of sample, which is a lot information! We aim to use this platform for biomarker studies regarding (immune-related) host-proteins involved in disease risk, response to treatment and vaccine response, and to potentially identify proteomic signatures. Would you like to collaborate with us? Feel free to reach out any time by contacting Krista van Meijgaarden or Simone Joosten.

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October 2023

Louise Pierneef, PhD candidate in the team of Prof. Annemieke Geluk has published yet another study on application of the field-friendly lateral flow assays in a serosurvey in India. Fingerstick blood was collected from 1857 children and the lateral flow assay detected IgM antibodies against PGL-I in 11% of the children, indicating previous or ongoing infection with Mycobacterium leprae. Survey studies like this one contribute to our insights on leprosy transmission and form the basis for guidelines on interruption of leprosy transmission, to which Prof. Geluk also contributed.

Click here for the full article

And here for the WHO-Interruption of transmission and elimination of leprosy disease

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September 2023

Early host pathogen interactions are critical in activating host defence. The first barrier for airway pathogens, such as mycobacteria is the epithelium, but interactions between mycobacteria and the epithelium are frequently ignored. Amy Barclay and colleagues have now studied the response of the airway epithelium to infection with several mycobacteria. Mycobacteria can infect air-liquid interface models of human primary bronchial epithelial cells, thereby resulting in secretion of pro-inflammatory cytokines and recruitment of neutrophils. This work was a very nice collaboration between the mycobacterial research group and the pulmoscience lab (https://www.pulmosciencelableiden.com/).

Click here for the full article

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August 2023

TLMEW grant for research on the role of B-cells and IgM in leprosy.

Prof. Dr. Annemieke Geluk and Dr. Anouk van Hooij from the Department of Infectious Diseases/LUCID have received a grant of €870,000 from The Leprosy Mission England Wales (TLMEW) for a new project ("2B") on the role of antibodies in the infectious disease leprosy. They are collaborating with clinicians and laboratory and field researchers from Bangladesh and Nepal. The project is part of Geluk's research line on the development, translation, and implementation of diagnostic tests for leprosy, in which antibodies produced in individuals infected with the leprosy bacterium are used as targets in diagnostic tests that are easy to use in areas without laboratories. The more severe the form of leprosy, the more IgM antibodies the patient has. Why these antibodies do not provide protection against leprosy is not exactly clear. Therefore, the 2B project mainly focuses on the specific B cells that lead to the production of these antibodies and their role in the disease process. New insights from 2B will be used to improve leprosy diagnostics in the field.

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August 2023

On August 9th of the past year, an etching of Harry van Kuiningen was loaned to Professor Dr. Leo Visser and Professor Dr. Jaap van Dissel (current and former department head of the LUMC Department of Infectious Diseases) by Prof. Dr. Martijn Breuning and Drs. Ir. Iris Broersma (from left to right) of the Harry van Kruiningen Foundation. This etching, titled "Procession of Lepers," measuring 250 cm x 40 cm, depicts the procession of leprosy patients (Ommeganck der Leproozen) to the Dam in Amsterdam. In the Middle Ages, leprosy patients were allowed, until 1604, to collect donations for the Leper House where they had to live in isolation from society for the rest of the year. Within the #LUMC Center for Infectious Diseases (LUCID), leprosy remains a focus of our researchers throughout the year.

April 2023

Mycobacterial Research Leiden is happy to be one of the partners in the TBVAC-Horizon project funded by the European Commission Horizon Europe program.   The TBVAC-HORIZON project will contribute to improve the understanding of lung immunity to tuberculosis infection and to establish a diversified innovative TB vaccine pipeline targeting mucosal immunity. TBVAC-HORIZON, consisting of 19 partners, will be coordinated by the Tuberculosis Vaccine Initiative (TBVI) and will run for 4 years. While there are few vaccine candidates in late-stage clinical trials, the TB vaccine pipeline remains insufficient and needs diversification and innovation. TBVAC-HORIZON will address this by in-depth investigation of the mechanisms of immune responses to infection in the lung, which will identify biomarkers to rationalise vaccine design and improve monitoring of vaccine immunity. The translational component includes head-to-head comparison of novel candidate vaccines in standardised animal models, aligned comparative experimental medicine studies in humans and non-human primates, and assess immune responses in individuals with comorbidity-induced increased susceptibility to TB. The third component will establish novel delivery systems and adjuvant formulations. Finally, a novel GMP platform for live attenuated vaccines will be developed.

Click here for the full article

February 2023

Subsidie om oorzaak infecties snel en nauwkeurig vast te stellen

Het GLORIA--sproject ontvangt 2.818.230 euro voor onderzoek naar AMR, waaronder het GLORIA BioBac project, een pilotstudie van 2 jaar naar de ontwikkeling van betaalbare testen die snel vaststellen of een infectieziekte veroorzaakt wordt door een bacterie of virus. Zo kan de zorgverlener bepalen of de patiënt met antibiotica behandeld moet worden. Vanuit het LUMC is hoogleraar Annemieke Geluk betrokken.

Click here for the full article (dutch)

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February 2023

Click here for the full article (dutch)

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January 2023

The expertise and technologies developed in our combat with mycobacteria have also been of great value in the COVID-19 pandemic. Louise Pierneef and colleagues used point-of-care lateral flow assays that were developed in mycobacterial research to identify a combination of biomarkers that could discriminate tuberculosis (TB) infection and disease from COVID-19. These combined biomarkers could be used in diagnostics of TB and COVID-19 but also for treatment monitoring.

Click here for the full paper

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November 2022

PhD thesis defense

Mariateresa Coppola will defend her PhD thesis entitled: ‘Exploring the Mycobacterium tuberculosis antigenome – New insights for the development of vaccines, diagnostics and drugs’ on November 3rd 2022. Promotor will be Prof. Dr. Tom H.M. Ottenhoff and co-promotor Prof. Dr. Annemieke Geluk.

Click here for information on the defense

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PhD thesis defense

PhD thesis defense

Cassandra van Doorn will defend her PhD thesis entitled: ‘Tuberculosis and diabetes: Biomarkers and drug candidates from a host perspective’ on November 16, 2022. Promotor will be Prof. Dr. Tom H.M. Ottenhoff and co-promotor Dr. Eleonora Vianello.

Click here for information on the defense

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October 2022

PhD thesis defense

Jonathan W Uzorka will defend his PhD thesis entitled: ‘Diagnosis of tuberculosis infection before immunosuppression – from better use of existing tool to better tools’ on October 6th 2022. Promotor will be Prof. Dr. Tom H.M. Ottenhoff, co-promotores Dr. Sandra M. Arend & Dr. Simone A. Joosten.

 

Click here for information on the defense

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September 2022

Recent work from our team has resulted in the identification of novel Mtb derived epitopes that can potentially be used for vaccine targeting. In this NIH funded project, Paula Ruibal improved
computational models to predict peptides in the Mtb genome that can be presented in HLA-E. HLA-E is an antigen presentation molecule that is commonly shared between individuals and thus a
potential target for vaccination. The epitopes identified using the new algorithms were actually recognized by T-cells from TB patients, supporting a role in host defense against TB.

 

Click here for the full paper

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July 2022

As part of the Fp7 TANDEM consortium we performed transcriptional biomarker analysis in patients with concurrent TB and type 2DM. The profiles that we identified predicted outcome of TB treatment already in the first 2 weeks upon treatment initiation. Early idenfication of individuals that are likely to fail treatment is important to offer alternative treatments and thereby limit further
spread of the disease.

Click here for the full paper

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May 2022

Tbc dodelijkste infectieziekte

 

Click here for the full article (dutch)

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March 2022

vroege diagnose van lepra: nieuwe tekst voor oude ziekte

Click here for the full article (dutch)


 

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December 2021

Een wereld zonder lepra is haalbaar

 

Click here for the full article (dutch)

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December 2021

Anouk van Hooij recently showed that immune profiling is essential in contacts of leprosy patients, in particular in individuals that are offered BCG vaccination as immunoprophylaxis. The markers identified in the study differentiate between protective and disease prone immunity in leprosy contacts upon BCG vaccination.

Click here for the full paper

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May 2021

While COVID19 has captured the world’s attention leading to commitment of enormous resources to tame it, mycobacterial disease, particularly TB, kills nearly 1.5 million people each year, approaching COVID19 in 2020, yet attracts little attention due largely to its primary effect on low and middle-income countries. Nonetheless, great progress is being made in understanding and combating this family of diseases in humans and animals. In this volume of Immunological Reviews established and early-career experts provide outstanding reviews of recent progress in understanding Mycobacterial diseases.

Click here for the full list of reviews

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