MD (1986), Université catholique de Louvain, Brussels, Belgium
PhD (1995), Université catholique de Louvain, Brussels, Belgium
Residencies, Ludwig Institute for Cancer Research, de Duve Institute, Université catholique de Louvain, Brussels, Belgium
I am an expert in tumor immunology (MD, PhD) and I am currently a Member of the Ludwig Institute for Cancer Research and co-director of the de Duve Institute, Belgium. I am also Full Professor of Immunology at the Université catholique de Louvain in Brussels and I train young scientists, including PhD students, medical students and postdoctoral fellows from all over the world. I serve as member of several national and international scientific committees and editorial boards, and I am a full member of the Belgian Royal Academy of Medicine.
I initially identified, together with Thierry Boon, the first tumor rejection antigen naturally expressed by mouse tumors and recognized by CD8 T lymphocytes. I subsequently identified a number of human tumor antigens recognized by CD8 T lymphocytes and I studied their processing, i.e. how they are produced by the cell. This led to the discovery of peptide splicing by the proteasome and of novel proteasome subtypes. I also described how tumors resist immune rejection by degrading tryptophan, through the expression of indoleamine dioxygenase (IDO) or tryptophan dioxygenase (TDO).
I am co-founder of iTeos Therapeutics, a biotechnology company based in Gosselies (Belgium) launched in 2012 as a spin-off of Ludwig Cancer Research. Its activity consists of developing small molecule immunomodulators for cancer treatment. Its first compound, an IDO inhibitor, is at the stage of clinical testing in cancer patients.
In 2016, I started a second group at Ludwig Oxford, to develop synergies in the tumor immunology landscape, focusing on cancer vaccines. I am also Professor of Tumor Immunology at the University of Oxford.
I have published more than 175 scientific papers and books and given more than 150 invited lectures at international meetings. My work has been cited more than 15,000 times in the scientific literature.
My group studies the interactions between tumors and the immune system, with the goal of improving the clinical efficacy of cancer immunotherapy. We follow several lines of research. One focuses on the processing of tumor antigens, studying the role of the proteasome and other proteases in the production of tumor antigenic peptides. This research line branches into our efforts to develop more efficient cancer vaccines. Another line of research focuses on the mechanisms whereby tumor cells resist immune rejection: understanding such mechanisms should lead to the design of new therapeutic approaches that can increase the number of patients who benefit from cancer immunotherapy.
Ludwig’s Benoît Van den Eynde tells the story of this discovery and its subsequent translation to develop a pair of candidate immunotherapies, one of which will soon enter clinical trials in partnership with Pfizer.
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