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Synthetic communication platform

Synthetic biology drives the development of engineered mammalian cellular systems capable of novel/improved functions. The focus of this project involves fundamental research towards a (multi)cellular synthetic communication platform with potential in cellular based therapies.

Medical treatment must continuously evolve to improve, and address future challenges. Cell based therapies exhibit an increasing interest towards this goal and it’s development is strongly driven by fundamental advances within synthetic biology. Engineering cellular systems with synthetic receptors provide a modular tool to equip cells with the ability to recognize specific inputs in the biological environment and respond with tailor-made outputs. The rational design of synthetic receptors show increasing success in cancer immunotherapy.

Aim of the project:

Since only so much can be engineered within a single cell before viability becomes an issue, it is important to expand on the complexity of cell based therapeutics. This translates to a need to explore synthetic communication pathways between multiple cell populations, to aspire to engineer a self-controlling system that rivals the complexity found in the immune system. Towards this goal, synthetic communication between two distinct cell populations is currently being developed and investigated. This requires multiple aspects to be addressed: 1) a SENDER cell engineered to transfer a synthetic signal, 2) an engineered RECEIVER cell that is capable of recognizing this signal via a synthetic receptor, and 3) to confirm successful transfer and recognition, clear readouts will need to be implemented. This project will provide invaluable insight towards novel engineered cell based therapies.


Tom Meuleman