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Individual and Collective Migration of the Immune Cellular System

Project description

Predicting immune cell migration in solid tumours

Immune surveillance depends on the inherent ability of immune cells to migrate to different tissues and carry out immune-related functions. However, the physical characteristics (stiffness and stress) of tumours prohibit the effective infiltration by immune cells, a prerequisite for anti-tumour immune responses under normal conditions and following immunotherapy. The EU-funded ICoMICS project proposes to develop a modelling approach capable of predicting how therapeutic immune cells migrate and interact with the tumour microenvironment. Researchers will employ 3D solid-tumour lung, liver and pancreas organoids that receive specific chemical modulators, and they will combine the generated data with information on tissue mechanics and cell interactions. The ICoMICS platform will contribute to the improvement of immunotherapy outcomes.

Objective

The immune system consists of a collection of cells with a high ability to migrate that work together to remove harmful foreign material from the body. Each immune cell can migrate between tissues, fulfilling specific functions in different microenvironments. However, this immune-surveillance response is not very effective in those tissues with a high non-physiological stiffness and a significant level of residual stresses, which are characteristics of solid tumors. Understanding the mechanisms that govern the cellular immune response to solid tumors is crucial to strengthen the development of novel immunotherapies. ICoMICS aims to develop a novel predictive modeling platform to investigate how therapeutic immune cells (TICs) sense, migrate and interact with cancerous cells and with the tumor microenvironment (TME). This platform will be built on two key pillars: in-vitro 3D tumor organoids and multicellular simulations, which will be combined and integrated by means of Bayesian optimization and machine learning techniques. On the one hand, cell culture microfluidic chips will be microfabricated, allowing continuous perfusion of chemical modulators through hydrogels (including decellularized matrices from murine stroma) inhabited by human tumor cells arranged to recreate 3D solid tumor organoids. On the other hand, an agent-based model will be developed to simulate cells as deformable objects, including cell-cell and cell-matrix interactions, combined with a continuum approach to model matrix mechanics and chemical reactions of cells, such as reactive oxygen species (ROS) and nutrients diffusion. Finally, ICoMICS will originally develop two innovative mechanistic-based immunotherapies. First, TICs will be subjected to high strains in micro-channels to induce them higher migration capacity. Second, TICs will be clustered as bio-bots, to ensure that they have improved functionality. All this research will be applied to 3 main solid tumors: lung, liver and pancreas.

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Coordinator

UNIVERSIDAD DE ZARAGOZA
Net EU contribution
€ 2 494 662,00
Address
Calle pedro cerbuna 12
50009 Zaragoza
Spain

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Region
Noreste Aragón Zaragoza
Activity type
Higher or Secondary Education Establishments
Links
Other funding
€ 0,00

Beneficiaries (1)