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Commercial staining kits

Foxp3 staining is notoriously difficult. The original protocols did not work, and it was a major breakthrough when BD and eBio released fix/perm kits that allowed good Foxp3 staining. The companies keep the formula secret, so that you have to buy from them, but it turns out 0.1% dishwashing liquid works just as well...



Open access publication is great in theory, but in practice it had lead to hundreds of fake scientific journals springing up in the hope that pseudo-scientists will pay-to-publish their junk in a real-sounding scientific journal. Todays example... I mean, really?


Let's stop making science unwelcome to women

These are the new bathrooms installed at the University of Leuven Biomedical Sciences campus.

I kinda feel like this would be a lot funnier if KUL didn't have a 500+ year history of gender inequality. This is not a big deal compared to the long-term gender inequality in hiring at the professorial level. On the other hand, it certainly doesn't help. Like, if you are not going to fix your sexist hiring practices, the least you can do is to not actively belittle women on the biomedical science campus.




Belgian Immunology Society meeting 2017

This year the Belgian Immunology Society meeting was hosted by the Translational Immunology laboratory in Leuven, with the theme "immune regulation". We had record attendence, with dedicated sessions on fundamental immunology, clinical immunology, neuroimmunology and tumour immunology. Great morning talks by Belgian scientists, an interactive poster session, and an afternoon keynote session with outstanding presentations from Anne Puel (INSERM, France), Denise Fitzegerald (QUB, UK), Gabriele Bergers (VIB), Anne Dejean (Toulouse, France) and Gitta Stockinger (Crick Institute, UK). I certainly learned a lot of immunology on the day!

Many thanks to our scientific coordinators and session chairs: Susan Schlenner (KUL), Niels Hellings (Hasselt), Erika Van Nieuwenhove (UZ Leuven) and Abhishek Garg (KUL). The meeting would not have been such a success without Wim Cockx, Caroline Lenaerts and all the volunteers from the lab who helped out on the day.

Great support from our sponsors made it all happen:

Platinum sponsor: BD Bioscience

Silver sponsors: ThermoFisher, Stem Cell Technologies, Sanbio, BioLegend, Bioconnect, Analis, Miltenyi Biotech

Bronze sponsors: VWR, biotechne

Presentation of the EFIS-IL lecture award to Prof Gitta Stockinger (Crick Institute, UK) by BIS President Oberdan Leo. 


Jobs, jobs, jobs!

Two post-doc positions now open in immunology, plus a technician position in the FACS Core, and very soon we will be opening up a new position in endocrinology!



Will pancreatic cancer be the next target for immunotherapy?

Pancreatic cancer is one of the scariest diagnoses a patient can receive. Even though it is a rare disease, with only 1 in 100 people developing it, it is a rapid killer - even with the best medical attention the median survival rate is less than 6 months.

In a study just published this week in Oncotarget, our laboratory looked at the relationship between autoimmunity of the pancreas and pancreatic cancer. We found that mice prone to pancreatic autoimmunity develop greater levels of immune infiltration around tumours in the pancreas, and this substantially slowed the growth of the tumour.

The reason why this result is so important is that it means our immune system can actually combat pancreatic cancer, if we can just drive an autoimmune reaction against the tumour. Here we used genetics to create an autoimmune-prone mouse, but immune checkpoint blockade therapies can create exactly the same pro-autoimmune response in patients. Our results therefore suggest that there is an effective latent response against pancreatic cancer that is waiting to be unleashed by immune checkpoint inhibitors. 

Original article: Dooley et al, "NOD mice, susceptible to pancreatic autoimmunity, demonstrate delayed growth of pancreatic cancer". Oncotarget, 8(46):80167



Off the Bench

An interview on science communication with Off the Bench


Science Minds: Prof Susan Schlenner

This interview of Prof Susan Schlenner by Science Minds is well worth listening to, for a fascinating discussion of mentorship and the ups and downs of a successful career in science.

You can listen to it on the website here, or subscribe to Science Minds podcast through iTunes.


And the winner is...

From our lab retreat last week, the winner of the Golden Pipette Award is... Dr Oliver Burton!

Look at the separation between Foxp3 and IL-2 - it takes golden hands to get such results when working with a cytokine and a transcription factor, let alone when running them as part of a 24 colour panel!