Immunotherapy and Immunoprevention - Molecular Vaccine Design

Nika Vučković

PhD Student

© dkfz.de

Phone: +49 6221 42 3822

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Scientific CV

Since July 2020
PhD student, Immunotherapy and Immunoprevention / Molecular Vaccine Design, DKFZ & DZIF, Heidelberg

Mar 2018 – Dec 2018
Master´s thesis research at University of Toronto, Toronto, Canada
Aug 2017 – Jan 2018
Erasmus exchange to Chalmers University of Technology, Gothenburg, Sweden
2016 – 2019
MSc Molecular Biology, University of Zagreb, Croatia
2012 – 2016
BSc Molecular Biology, University of Zagreb, Croatia

Research project

Identification of HLA-presented HPV epitopes on cervical intraepithelial neoplasia (CIN) cells for therapeutic vaccine design
Cervical cancer is caused by persistent infection with high-risk human papillomaviruses (HPV). Virtually every sexually active individual contracts a high-risk HPV infection over their lifetime, with most infections eradicated by the immune system on the strength of an effective T-cell response. However, by dysregulating the antigen processing machinery (APM), HPV interferes with T-cell recognition of infected/transformed cells. The Riemer lab has shown that such dysregulation increases as the tumor stage progresses, therefore it is plausible that more HPV epitopes are HLA-presented on HPV-positive cells in precursor lesions (such as cervical intraepithelial neoplasia; CIN) than in fully developed cancer. Moreover, the microenvironment in CIN lesions is less immunosuppressive so therapeutic vaccination in this setting is promising. The aim of this project is to identify and validate HPV16-derived T-cell epitopes presented on CIN cells with the goal of defining a set of epitopes for an efficacious therapeutic HPV vaccine.

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