The Epigenetic Control of Lymphocyte Biology (EPICON) team led by Dr. Sebastian Scheer is part of the Immune Endocrine and Epigenetics (IEE) Research Group at LIH (led by Dr. Jonathan Turner) and focuses on identifying and understanding the mechanisms by which epigenetic modifiers affect NK cells, with the goal of improving cancer immunotherapy. NK cells, a subset of cells in the innate immune system, play a vital role in controlling transformed cells and tumour inflammation. Epigenetic modifiers are crucial regulators of both the innate and adaptive immune systems and are a promising target for cancer therapeutics. These enzymes regulate gene expression through their effects on chromatin, which helps to control cellular development and differentiation. While some studies have shown that inhibiting epigenetic modifiers can improve immune cell function, few have explored their impact on NK cells.
Our team makes use of preclinical models of cancer and inflammation, in-vivo CRISPR screens, molecular biology techniques, and bioinformatic analysis to identify previously unknown epigenetic modifiers that can be targeted to improve NK cell function. We use conditional knockout models to understand the molecular mechanisms of specific epigenetic modifiers and transcription factors identified by our team. As part of the FNR-funded EPICON project, the successful candidate will contribute to the identification of novel epigenetic targets for improving NK cell function. In addition, using in-vivo and ex-vivo animal models, the candidate will investigate the mechanisms of a specific epigenetic modifier that has shown promise as a potential means of improving cancer immunotherapy with NK cells.