Alsya Affandi: NWO Veni award for nanovaccine and dendritic cells research

Alsya Affandi receives the prestigious Veni grant of 280,000 euros from The Dutch Research Council NWO, for his research in developing nanovaccines for treatment of cancer and autoimmunity.

Our immune system is key for protection against pathogens and malignant cells. Impairment of the immune system can lead to failure to clear viral or bacterial infection, or to prevent tumor development. On the other hand, uncontrolled immune responses can also lead to the development of chronic autoimmune diseases. Dendritic cells (DCs) are the master regulators of immune system with tremendous immunotherapy potential, however current DC-based therapies are still lacking effectiveness in treating these diseases.

To overcome this challenge, Alsya Affandi’s research proposal “Nanotrivax: three-component nanobody-vaccines targeting human dendritic cells for immunotherapy” aims to use nanobodies to deliver vaccine components specifically towards DCs. 

The NWO talent programme awards the Veni funding to highly promising young scientists who have recently obtained their PhDs that will enable them to develop their own ideas in the period of three years. From the ENW and ZonMW domains, 89 researchers have been awarded these grants, in which Alsya Affandi is among the four laureates from Amsterdam UMC.



Gijs Kooij: Pro-resolving lipid mediator Lipoxin A4 reduces neuro-inflammation in MS models

A research group of the multiple sclerosis (MS) Center Amsterdam, led by assistant professor Gijs Kooij, studied the clinical potential of pro-resolving lipid mediator Lipoxin A4 in MS and model systems. They discovered that this lipid mediator not only ameliorated neuro-inflammation, but also that it dampened pro-inflammatory T cell responses in MS patient-derived cells. These results are now published in Cell Reports.

NWO Subsidy for innovative research into mini-brains

 Elly Hol of UMC Utrecht Brain Center and Elga de Vries of Amsterdam UMC receive 1.3 million euro subsidy from NWO (Nederlandse Organisatie voor Wetenschappelijk Onderzoek) for their innovative research into mini-brains!

The development of drugs for brain diseases is difficult for several reasons. Unfortunately, the blood-brain barrier, which is there to prevent all kinds of undesirable substances from entering the brain, also causes important medicines to be stopped. In addition, animal models with which research is carried out mimic but limit the disease in patients.
The research by Elly Hol and Elga de Vries, called CONNECT, aims to develop a human cell model that is closer to the patient than current cell and animal models. They do this by using the latest technology from human stem cells to develop blood-brain barrier cells and link them to mini-brains.

More about the granting of a total of 5 million euros for research into human measurement models on the 
NWO (Nederlandse Organisatie voor Wetenschappelijk Onderzoek) website :

Sanne Verberk – publication in Frontiers in Immunology on the role of macrophage ACLY in regulating inflammatory responses and disease outcomes

Our second paper on ATP citrate lyase (Acly) is published in Frontiers in Immunology!

In our previous paper we showed beneficial effects of targeting macrophage-specific Acly in the context of atherosclerosis. Here, we showed that despite a marked regulation of inflammatory responses in vitro, macrophage Acly deficiency does not translate into huge alterations in other acute and chronic inflammatory disorders in vivo.

Lynn van Olst – Meningeal inflammation in multiple sclerosis induces phenotypic changes in cortical microglia that differentially associate with neurodegeneration

Multiple sclerosis (MS) is the most common chronic neurodegenerative and neuroinflammatory disease in young adults and despite availability of many disease-modifying therapies most patients will eventually develop secondary progressive MS. Here, we uncovered two distinct MS-specific phenotypes of brain resident immune cells, microglia, that are driven by local meningeal inflammation and differentially associate with neuronal damage. Results suggest that these phenotypes may occur sequentially during chronic meningeal inflammation and that microglia lose their protective properties over time, leading to neuronal loss. Hence, timely targeting of the processes contributing to microglial activation in the progressive MS cortex provides an interesting therapeutic strategy to combat progressive MS.



The management of the MS Center Amsterdam will change as of April, 2021

In addition to general director professor Bernard Uitdehaag, professor Elga de Vries will join the newly established executive board as scientific director. Besides the two directors senior researchers from seven different departments where MS research is performed will form the general board of the MS Center Amsterdam.


Managing board

Professor Bernard Uitdehaag, neurologist and chair of the department of Neurology at Amsterdam UMC, has been director of MS Center Amsterdam since 2013. From April 1, he will be joined for the daily management by professor Elga de Vries. She has been at Amsterdam UMC since 2000 as a neuro-immunological researcher in the department of Molecular Cell Biology and Immunology. Her research group Neuro-immunology focuses on unraveling disease mechanisms of MS at a cellular level in order to find new targets for treatments.


General Board

The general board consists of eight senior researchers from seven departments within Amsterdam UMC. Their task is to jointly provide the vision and mission of the MS Center Amsterdam and a draw a strategy to achieve set goals.


Members general board

·         prof. dr. Jeroen Geurts, Anatomy and Neuroscience

·         prof. dr. Vincent de Groot, Rehabilitation medicine

·         prof. dr. Joep Killestein, Neurology

·         prof. dr. Charlotte Teunissen, Clinical chemistry

·         prof. dr. Bernard Uitdehaag, Neurology

·         prof. dr. Paul van der Valk, Pathology

·         dr. ir. Hugo Vrenken, Radiology and nuclear medicine

·         prof. dr. Elga de Vries, Molecular Cell Biology and Immunology


MS Center Amsterdam Office

The managing and general board will be supported by the MS Center Amsterdam Office.

·         dr. Annette van der Goes

·         Karin Husken


Ernesto Rodriguez Camejo – publication in Nature Communications: Sialic acids in pancreatic cancer cells drive tumour-associated macrophage differentiation via the Siglec receptors Siglec-7 and Siglec-9

Pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma (PDAC) remains one of the most severe cancer types with a

5-year survival of 9% . The PDAC TME is characterized by dense fibrotic stroma
and suppressive immune cells that repress anti-tumor immune responses and
contribute to cancer progression. In this paper, Rodriguez et al showed that
pancreatic tumor cells present an increased expression of a particular glycan
structure, sialic acid, capable to shape immune responses by inducing
tolerogenic programs in myeloid cells. This work highlights a critical role for
sialylated glycans in controlling immune suppression and provides new potential
targets for cancer immunotherapy in PDAC.