Invited Talk: Dr. Xin Lai – Network- and systems-based re-engineering of dendritic cells with microRNAs for cancer immunotherapy – Jan 27th, 14h

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It’s a great pleasure to announce Dr. Xin Lai from Erlangen’s University Clinic.

Title: Network- and systems-based re-engineering of dendritic cells with microRNAs for cancer immunotherapy
Date: Jan 27th 2021, 14h

Abstract: Dendritic cells (DCs) are professional antigen-presenting cells that induce and regulate adaptive immunity by presenting antigens to T cells. Due to their coordinative role in adaptive immune responses, DCs have been used as cell-based therapeutic vaccination against cancer. The capacity of DCs to induce a therapeutic immune response can be enhanced by re-wiring of cellular signalling pathways with microRNAs (miRNAs). 

Since the activation and maturation of DCs is controlled by an interconnected signalling network, we deploy an approach that combines RNA sequencing data and systems biology methods to delineate miRNA-based strategies that enhance DC-elicited immune responses. 

Through RNA sequencing of IKKβ-matured DCs that are currently being tested in a clinical trial on therapeutic anti-cancer vaccination, we identified 44 differentially expressed miRNAs. According to a network analysis, most of these miRNAs regulate targets that are linked to immune pathways, such as cytokine and interleukin signalling. We employed a network topology-oriented scoring model to rank the miRNAs, analysed their impact on immunogenic potency of DCs, and identified dozens of promising miRNA candidates, with miR-15a and miR-16 as the top ones. The results of our analysis are presented in a database that constitutes a tool to identify DC-relevant miRNA-gene interactions with therapeutic potential ( 

Our approach enables the systematic analysis and identification of functional miRNA-gene interactions that can be experimentally tested for improving DC immunogenic potency. 

Short Bio: Xin Lai is a research fellow at University of Erlangen-Nürnberg. He obtained his doctorate in systems biology at University of Rostock in 2013. His research makes use of methods from biomathematics and bioinformatics to analyze biological data. He developed and proposed a systems biology approach to identify therapeutic microRNAs in cancer. His interests broadened into human genomics, network biology, and computational modelling through lecturing and from tutoring engineer and medical students from primary research papers. More than 10-year collaboration with experimental researchers led him to realize the importance of a systematic and integrative overview of biomedical research. As a researcher, he is now using this perspective to conduct research in medical systems biology. In addition, he is a father with a great passion for basketball, photography, and cooking.