Nearly €10 million has just been allocated via ERC (European Research Council) Synergy funding to 4 international teams for a period of 6 years. The “ATTACK” project of Salvatore Valitutti, team leader at the CRCT, is focused on the analysis of the tactical arsenal of T cells for the fight against cancer.

In recent years, the success of cancer immunotherapies has drawn the attention of scientists and industry worldwide to the cytotoxic T cells that protect us by killing infected and cancerous cells. However, current approaches to immunotherapy still have many limitations, including high costs, dependence on the integrity of the patient’s immune system, and the resistance of cancer cells to treatment. The “ATTACK” project, funded by ERC Synergy, will focus on a new biotechnology to further explore the cytotoxic machinery of T cells and to approach the goal of effective and accessible cancer treatment.

In Toulouse, Salvatore Valitutti has been invited to participate in this collaboration because of his 30-year expertise in the study of the biology of human cytotoxic T cells and for his skill in visualising the fight between these cells and cancer cells using a combination of advanced imaging techniques.

The Toulouse team, in collaboration with scientists from Oxford University, has highlighted a hitherto unknown weapon in the tactical arsenal of T cells: supramolecular attack particles (SMAPs) which kill the target cells.

Thanks to ERC Synergy, four scientific teams based in Germany, France, Italy and the United Kingdom will combine their various skills to understand the biosynthesis, structure and function of these particles and develop a biotechnology to improve SMAPs in modified T cells.

In the future, new therapeutic approaches and clinical trials may be developed at the University Institute of Cancer in Toulouse.

This project places the Toulouse team at the heart of European expertise in the field and contributes to increasing the international recognition of the Toulouse cluster in the field of cancerology.

ATTACK project: Analysis of the tactical arsenal of T cells for the fight against cancer

Researchers and host institutions :

  • Jens RETTIG, Saarland University, Hamburg, Germany
    Cosima BALDARI, University of Siena, Italy
    Michael DUSTIN, University of Oxford, United Kingdom
    Salvatore VALITUTTI, Inserm, University of Toulouse, France

 Contact researcher :

Salvatore Valitutti, CRCT (UMR 1037 Inserm/UPS)
Salvatore.valitutti@inserm.fr

Salvatore Valitutti’s team is supported by Inserm, the University Toulouse III – Paul Sabatier, the Claudius Regaud Institute, the Toulouse Cancer Santé Foundation and the Ligue contre le cancer. The team, a member of the Toulouse Cancer Excellence Laboratory (Labex TOUCAN) is supported by industrial subsidies from Hoffmann-La Roche and Bristol Myers Squibb.

The ERC Synergy Grant programme is aimed at teams of two to four researchers and their teams to carry out ambitious joint research projects. The programme’s sole selection criterion is scientific excellence.