Project title: Photo-immunotherapy: potentiating the anti-tumour triggeres by photodynamic therapy

Employer: Universty of Coimbra (UC, Portugal), Cotutelle: Trinity College of Dublin (TCD, Ireland)
Supervisors: Dr. Ligia GOMES DA-SILVA (UC), Prof. Dr. Mathias O. SENGE (TCD)

ESR representative at the Supervisory Board (2018-2019)

Research secondments: BET Solutions, PorphyChem
Practical rotation: Biolitec

Research project description and main objectives: A key aspect of the POLYTHEA project is to develop new tetrapyrrolic photosensitizers (PS) and study them in order to identify quantitative structure–activity relationship (QSAR) for various types of photodynamic treatment including anti-cancer, anti-bacterial, anti-inflammatory and immune-activating applications. This project aims to develop new photosensitizers that might be classified as “immunogenic cell death inducers” in the oncological context. Ideally, any therapeutic approach aiming at cancer treatment should combine effective killing of cancer cells with the stimulation of an anti-tumor immune response, which in turn would allow the control of residual cancer cells, both at the primary tumor and/or at distant secondary lesions (metastasis). It has been demonstrated that a few photodynamic therapy (PDT) strategies can kill cancer cells in a way that stimulates an anti-tumor immune response. Therefore, this project will focus on the screening and identification of such photosensitizers and to potentiate their immunogenic capability through combination with immunoadjuvants. The final goal of this project will be to control metastatic disease, which is the main cause of death in oncological patients.


This project has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under the Marie Sklodowska-Curie grant agreement n°764837