Unravelling the functional B-cell heterogeneity in solid tumors and their impact on cancer immunotherapy

Project Details


Solid tumors are made up of a complex, heterogeneous mass of cells, including not only cancer cells, but also a large fraction of
‘normal’ host cells, such as infiltrating immune cells. One of these cell types, B cells, is a crucial component of the adaptive immune arm. In contrast to the known importance of T cells in antitumor responses, B cells have often been overlooked in this contexture. Yet, their presence is observed in all stages of tumor development and they
can account for up to 25% of all cells in the tumor, suggesting a crucial role for B cells in tumor development. However, due to inconsistent characterization of tumor-infiltrating B cell subtypes, B cells have till now been pushed to the background.
Evidence points to several functionally distinct subsets that coexist in tumors and exhibit pro- and anti-tumor characteristics. Therefore, this project aims at characterizing these subsets and elucidating their specific roles within the tumor microenvironment. Moreover, we will assess whether existing immunotherapies alter the B cell activation status and functions and whether these B cells can positively or negatively influence the outcome of immunotherapies.
The results of this PhD project will provide new insights into the overlooked role of B cell subsets in tumors and will hopefully serve
as a basis for new therapeutic combination approaches that are able to overcome the currently witnessed non-responsiveness to certain therapies.
Effective start/end date1/10/1931/10/23


  • Tumor-immunology
  • B cells
  • immunotherapy

Flemish discipline codes

  • Adaptive immunology
  • Cancer therapy