UNDERSTANDING ENGINEERING HUMAN T CELL IMMUNITY
Our goal is to understand and engineer human T cell immunity to treat infectious diseases and cancer.
T cells recognize parts of infected cells or tumor cells. To do so, they are equipped with receptors. Every human being has about 100 million different T cell receptors! T cells are like a population inhabiting the human organism and their receptor is their unique finger print. T cell populations usually protect you, sometimes they can cause problems and they continuously change.
Our goals are to understand how T cell populations evolve based on their T cell receptor – and then to use this knowledge therapeutically and re-program T cells by replacing their T cell receptor through means of genetic engineering.
The Schober lab aims at understanding and engineering human T cell immunity. Natural immunity has co-evolved with pathogens for millions of years, and the adoptive transfer of T cells represents an exciting new field of medicine for the treatment of infectious diseases and cancer.
We investigate the composition and evolution of antigen-specific T cell responses over space and time. For that we use state-of-the-art T cell receptor (TCR) sequence analyses combined with single-cell transcriptomics, as well as bioinformatic analyses in collaboration with machine-learning experts. With that knowledge at hand, we employ advanced genetic engineering tools such as CRISPR/Cas9 to engineer T cells in a highly precise fashion so that they are optimally suited for therapeutic application.
In analogy to the field of bionics, physiological T cells for us represent a blueprint for functional and safe engineered therapeutic T cell products. We therefore follow the vision to generate physiological Advanced Genetically Engineered T cells (AGEnTs), and thereby combine the therapeutic efficacy and safety profile of physiological T cells with the versatility of cell engineering to develop better therapies for patients with infectious diseases and cancer.