VU Medical Center
Yvette van Kooyk
Division of Dendritic Cell Biology
VUmc, University Medical Center (Amsterdam, The Netherlands)
Ernesto Rodríguez Camejo
Project: “In-vivo capacity of the multivalent glycoconjugates in a tumor model in mice”
The research program of the two workgroups that form the division comprises:
1. “Modulation of DC responses by glycans’’, and
2.”DC targeting to improve anti-cancer responses”
In the early 90’s, Dr Y. van Kooyk has pioneered the field of integrin activation, (Nature ’89) in particular the concept that adhesion receptors were not merely adhesion receptors, but could undergo conformational changes upon antigen recognition and T cell receptor triggering. This led to active cell- cell interaction, and synapse formation, a process which is currently still studied by many scientific researchers.
Early 2001, she discovered the, innate receptor DC-SIGN a C-type lectin on Dendritic cells (2 Cell papers 2000). DC-SIGN was found to function as an HIV binding receptor that upon recognition of glycan structures on HIV, captures the virus and transmits it to T cells to facilitate HIV transmission. This concept has boosted the HIV field for detailed analysis of the function of dendritic cells in the onset and viral transmission of HIV. Moreover this discovery set the stage of a whole new field that led to new concepts on pathogen interactions through C-type lectin receptor, that modify Dendritic cell responses. Within the last 10 years of research more than 730 papers have been published on DC-SIGN – pathogen interactions, a field that is still growing and also spreads towards other C-type lectin receptors that recognize pathogens.
From 2001 onwards and financed by her Pionier grant Dr Y. van Kooyk directed her research line into the field of functional glycomics, a field neglected by immunologist, which focuses on the understanding how the exposed glycans on glycoproteins/lipids, are instrumental for the functional activity of proteins, and in cellular communication. She pioneered this field successfully leading to new scientific discoveries, but also to clinical applications into the field of DC-targeting strategies, improving/inhibiting immune responses, and in the field of diagnostics by constructing glycan detection probes for new discovery of tumor associated diseases, linking basic science driven research to translational research. She received ERC-Advanced in 2013 for this research line.
Because her research focus is on conceptual questions that relate to defining DC modifying strategies, her work covers the field of cancer, auto immunity and infectious diseases.