Current position: Associate Professor of Immunology and Vice-President of Faculty of Biology, University of Athens (UoA). Education: BSc Biology, MD, PhD, all from UoA; post-doctoral researcher, University of Tuebingen. Last 10 years: teaches Immunology and Animal Physiology; supervised 7 PhD students; coordinated or participated in >15 grants, total funding >2,000,000 euros; authored ~60 publications and ~15 chapters in books; participated in organization of ~10 conferences/congresses. Major research interests: cancer immunology and immunotherapy, with emphasis on the mechanisms of action of DAMPs and means to enhance antitumor immunity using immunomodulators (eg. thymic peptides, cytokines, natural products); evaluation of new anticancer protocols in vitro and in preclinical models in mice.
Cancer immunotherapy has received widespread attention in recent years and it is now well established that a tumor can be rejected by the body’s immune system. More recent data reportedly suggest that most, if not all, conventional chemotherapeutics, as well as radiotherapy and targeted anticancer agents, provoke a specific type of cancer cell death, commonly known as “immunogenic cell death”. In most cases, such dying tumor cells are highly immunogenic as they release immunostimulatory signals, referred to as “damage-associated molecular patterns” (DAMPs), which subsequently alert the immune system and trigger the (re)-activation of tumor-reactive immune responses. Prothymosin alpha is a newly characterized DAMP and although its wide repertoire of immunomodulatory activities is still under investigation, data from us and others provide a rationale for its eventual use as stimulant in anticancer immunotherapy.