The Science Behind Future Anti-Cancer Vaccines

Case Study

Bruno De Geest is a Professor of Biopharmaceutical Technology at Ghent University, Belgium, and the leader of his own research group at the Department of Pharmaceutics.

His interdisciplinary lab works on the interface between materials chemistry and life science to design novel drug delivery systems and to investigate how these interact with living cells and tissues in vitro and in vivo. Bruno’s work follows three main themes: a) Self-assembled polymeric multilayer thin films, b) Particulate vaccine delivery and c) Anti-cancer therapy.

Some of Bruno’s latest work has been published in “Advanced Functional Materials”, “Angewandte Chemie International Edition” and “ACS Nano”. In these papers Bruno et al described different approaches to efficiently incorporate vaccine antigens into polymeric capsules and deliver these to dendritic cells. The goal of this research is to promote the induction of cytotoxic T cells, which can kill malignant cancer cells. These new methods can help develop future anti-cancer vaccines.

Bruno’s group uses a wide range of molecular and cellular techniques as well as cutting edge imaging to gain insight into natural biological processes as well as to assess the success of novel vaccines and anti-cancer therapies. One of the key tools used in his lab is the Andor Revolution DSD2 a laser free confocal image system. The Andor Revolution DSD2 allows a fast multi-color image acquisition at high speed and in multiple dimensions. Therefore it is particularly well suited for us to investigate the interaction between nanoparticles and living cells, including dendritic cells and cancer cells.


Bruno graduated as Chemical Engineer in 2003 from Ghent University where he obtained his PhD in pharmaceutical sciences in 2006 on 'Polyelectrolyte Multilayer Capsules for Pharmaceutical Applications'. For his Phd work he was awarded the graduate student award for pharmaceutical technology from the AAPS and the Andreas Deleenheer award from Ghent University. After 2 years of postdoctoral research at Utrecht University (The Netherlands) he returned to Ghent University at the Department of Pharmaceutics. He moved to his current position at Ghent University in October 2012.

Research Papers

Mouse dendritic cells. The cell membrane is labeled with cholera toxin subunit B that is conjugated to AlexaFluor555. The cell nucleus is stained with Hoechst and nanoparticles were labeled with AlexaFluor488. Image captured on a DSD2 connected to a LeicaDMI6000 and a 63x 1.4 NA oil immersion objective.
  • Bio-Hybrid Tumor Cell-Templated Capsules: A Generic Formulation Strategy for Tumor Associated Antigens in View of Anti-Cancer Immune-TherapyLybaert, L.; De Vlieghere, E.; De rycke, R.; Vanparijs, N.; De Wever, O.; De Koker, S.; De Geest, B.G. Advanced Functional Materials, in press
  • Nanoporous hydrogen bonded polymeric microparticles: facile and economic production of cross presentation promoting vaccine carriers Dierendonck, M.; Fierens, K.; De Rycke, R.; Lybaert, L.; Maji, S.; Zhang, Z.; Zhang, Q.; Hoogenboom, R.; Lambrecht, B.N.; Grooten, J.; Remon, J.P.; De Koker, S.; De Geest, B.G. Advanced Functional Materials, in press
  • Nanoporous polyelectrolyte vaccine microcarriers - in vitro and in vivo evaluation De Koker, S.; Fierens, K.; Dierendonck, M.; De Rijcke, R. Lambrecht, B.N.; Grooten, J.; De Geest, B.G. Journal of Controlled Release, in press
  • SKOV-3 human ovarian ovarian cancer cells. The cell membrane and part of the actin skeleton is labeled with phalloidin that is conjugated to AlexaFluor488. The cell nucleus is stained with Hoechst and nanoparticles were labeled with rhodamin B. Nanoparticels are rendered as colour-coded spots (blue spots are close to a nucleus and red spots are distant from nuclei). Image captured on a DSD2 connected to a LeicaDMI6000 and a 63x 1.4 NA oil immersion objective.
  • Thermoresponsive hyaluronic acid nanogels as hydrophobic drug nanocarrier to macrophages Fernandes Stefanello, T.; Szarpak-Jankowska, A.; Appaix, F.; Louage, B.; Hamard, L.; De Geest, B.G.; van der Sanden, B.; Vataru Nakamura, C.; Auzély-Veltya, R. Acta Biomateriala, in press
  • Hydrogen bonded Multilayer Films based on poly(2-oxazoline)s and tannic acid Sundaramurthy, A.; Vergaelen, M.; Maji, S.; Auzely-Velthy, R.; Zhang, Z.; De Geest, B.G.; Hoogenboom, R. Advanced Healthcare Materials, in press
  • Spray-Dried Polyelectrolyte Microparticles in Oral Antigen Delivery: Stability, Biocompatibility and Cellular Uptake De Smet, R.; Verschuere, S.; Allais, L.; Leclercq, G.; Dierendonck, M ; De Geest, B.G. ; Van Driessche, I. ; Demoor, T.; Cuvelier, C.A. Biomacromolecules, in press
  • Fast and accurate partial hydrolysis of poly(2-ethyl-2-oxazoline) into tailored linear polyethyleneimine copolymers De la Rosa, V.R.; Bauwens, E.; Monney, B.D.; De Geest, B.G.; Hoogenboom, R. Polymer Chemistry, in press
  • Just spray it - next generation of electrostatic assembly Dierendonck, M.; De Koker, S.; De Rijcke, R.; De Geest, B.G. Soft Matter, 2014, 10, 804-807.
  • Straightforward RAFT-procedure for the synthesis of heterotelechelic poly(acrylamides) Wallyn, S.; Zhang, Z.; Driessen, F.; Pietrasik, J.; De Geest, B.G.; Hoogenboom, R.; Du Prez, F.E. Macromolecular Rapid Communications, 2014, 35, 405-411.
  • Dual pH- and temperature-responsive RAFT-based block co-polymer micells and polymer-protein conjugates with transient solubility Zhang, Q.; Vanparijs, N.; Louage, B.; De Geest, B.G.; Hoogenboom, R. Polymer Chemistry, 2014, 5, 1140-1144.
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Publications Database
Evaluation of genetic damage in tobacco and arsenic exposed population of Southern Assam, India using buccal cytome assay and comet assay
Chloroquine-induced glioma cells death is associated with mitochondrial membrane potential loss, but not oxidative stress
The EHD protein Past1 controls postsynaptic membrane elaboration and synaptic function
Temporal sequence of activation of cells involved in purinergic neurotransmission in the colon
In vivo cell-cycle profiling in xenograft tumors by quantitative intravital microscopy
The role of Ca2+ influx in spontaneous Ca2+ wave propagation in interstitial cells of Cajal from the rabbit urethra
A mouse model of human primitive neuroectodermal tumors resulting from microenvironmentally-driven malignant transformation of orthotopically transplanted radial glial cells.
Neuronal activity and AMPA-type glutamate receptor activation regulates the morphological development of oligodendrocyte precursor cells
Systematic imaging reveals features and changing localization of mRNAs in Drosophila development
Functionalized fluorescent silver nanoparticle surfaces for novel sensing and imaging techniques
Signal inhibition by a dynamically-regulated pool of mono-phosphorylated MAPK
Interphase centrosome organization by the PLP-Cnn scaffold is required for centrosome function
A High Throughput Micro-Chamber Array Device for Single Cell Clonal Cultivation and Tumor Heterogeneity Analysis
Natural Loss of Mps1 Kinase in Nematodes Uncovers a Role for Polo-like Kinase 1 in Spindle Checkpoint Initiation
A geminivirus betasatellite damages the structural and functional integrity of chloroplasts leading to symptom formation and inhibition of photosynthesis
The Guanine Nucleotide Exchange Factor (GEF) Asef2 Promotes Dendritic Spine Formation via Rac Activation and Spinophilin-dependent Targeting
Germline mutations in ETV6 are associated with thrombocytopenia, red cell macrocytosis and predisposition to lymphoblastic leukemia
Potent and selective small-molecule MCL-1 inhibitors demonstrate on-target cancer cell killing activity as single agents and in combination with ABT-263 (navitoclax)
RGS Proteins and Septins Cooperate to Promote Chemotropism by Regulating Polar Cap Mobility
A mechanical microcompressor for high resolution imaging of motile specimens

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