Alsya Affandi: NWO Veni award for nanovaccine and dendritic cells research

Alsya Affandi receives the prestigious Veni grant of 280,000 euros from The Dutch Research Council NWO, for his research in developing nanovaccines for treatment of cancer and autoimmunity.

Our immune system is key for protection against pathogens and malignant cells. Impairment of the immune system can lead to failure to clear viral or bacterial infection, or to prevent tumor development. On the other hand, uncontrolled immune responses can also lead to the development of chronic autoimmune diseases. Dendritic cells (DCs) are the master regulators of immune system with tremendous immunotherapy potential, however current DC-based therapies are still lacking effectiveness in treating these diseases.

To overcome this challenge, Alsya Affandi’s research proposal “Nanotrivax: three-component nanobody-vaccines targeting human dendritic cells for immunotherapy” aims to use nanobodies to deliver vaccine components specifically towards DCs. This approach is expected to be more effective in activating T cells to eliminate cancer cells, or in promoting regulatory T cells to dampen chronic inflammation. This will allow us to harness DCs to improve current immunotherapies in cancer and autoimmunity.

The NWO talent programme awards the Veni funding to highly promising young scientists who have recently obtained their PhDs that will enable them to develop their own ideas in the period of three years. From the ENW and ZonMW domains, 89 researchers have been awarded these grants, in which Alsya Affandi is among the four laureates from Amsterdam UMC.