About LabEx IGO

The LabEx IGO "Immunotherapy-Graft-Oncology" aims at fostering transdisciplinary projects between 15 scientific teams in Nantes, Angers, Rennes and Brest, with complementary expertise in transplantation and tumor immunology, autoimmunity, inflammation, and radio-immunotherapy.

It was labeled in 2012 by the French Ministry of Research and Education among very competitive scientific clusters of excellence called LabEx for “Laboratoire d’Excellence”, as part of the governmental initiative “Investissements d’Avenir” (investing in the future). These initiatives aim to distribute significant resources to French laboratories to increase their international visibility and attractivity, to develop research, to support training initiatives and to promote research findings.

The LabEx IGO was initially endowed with 5,5 M € for a 8-year period, from March 2012 to December 2019. In 2019, following an evaluation by an international jury, based on its scientific results and the impact of its activities on the structuring of immunology teams in the French large-western region, the LabEx IGO was extended for 5 years (2020-2024) with a new allocation of 2,2 M €.

Currently, the LabEx IGO gathers about 400 people (scientists, students, technical staff) from 15 research teams located in 4 academic research units (UMR1232, UMR1064, UMR1236, UMR1227) of the French large-western region (Nantes, Angers, Rennes, Brest).

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The LabEx IGO aims at developing an ambitious translational immunology program that brings together immunologists experts in the fields of immuno-oncology, transplantation and autoimmune fields to develop innovative immunotherapies with enhanced efficacy.
To this end, we built a transdisciplinary network in order to:

  1. Accelerate and improve obtention of preclinical and clinical proofs of concept for new immunotherapies, (i) through in depth and comparative analysis of tolerogenic mechanisms in allotransplantation, oncological situations and autoimmunity, (ii) through implementation and regional structuration of facilities providing relevant animal models for early obtention of preclinical proofs of concept (POC) for new immunotherapies and (iii) through the development of new immunomonitoring tools and approaches, tighter coordination of existing immune monitoring platforms, and creation of an open data base compiling standardized operating procedures for monitoring of a broad set of innate and adaptive immune markers;
  2. Design and assess cellular immunotherapy approaches with enhanced efficacy in oncology and transplantation, through (i) implementation of new clinical grade versatile protocols for generation of homogeneous T, B or dendritic cell preparations with desired specificity and functional features and (ii) design of innovative approaches for in vivo follow up of adoptively transferred immune cells using radiolabelled antibodies;
  3. Improve selection of clinical indications and patient subsets eligible for existing or novel immunomodulating therapies, through (i) improved patient immune monitoring, (ii) preclinical cross-assessment of their immunomodulating efficacy in cancer, allotransplantation, or autoimmune diseases, and (iii) preclinical assessment of new combination of immunomodulating therapies.


To address this, the LabEx IGO program was initially structured on 3 research workpackages (WP):

  • WP1. New immune markers and therapeutic targets for immunomodulating or depleting therapies;
  • WP2. Innovative cellular immunotherapies;
  • WP3. New immunodepleting and immunomodulating strategies with broader indications and enhanced efficacy.

To reach its goals, the LabEx IGO proposes to develop two main actions by providing:

  • starting grants for ambitious and transdisciplinary basic and translational projects integrated within the three main workpackages, that will address each of the above objectives. IGO does not merely provide additional funding for existing projects already run by individual teams, but instead supports new collaborative proposals yielding conceptual, technical or clinical breakthroughs that could only be reached through synergistic interactions between the participating teams.
  • specific support for implementation, standardization and dissemination of innovative monitoring approaches and animal models that could accelerate obtention of preclinical POC and new biomarkers for better selection of eligible patients and assessment of immunotherapeutic efficacy.


Between 2012 and 2019, with the implementation of this program, the LabEx IGO has played a unique and central role in the structuring of immunology research in the Pays de la Loire and Bretagne regions. From now on, the LabEx IGO evolves from its previous version by:

  • refining the scientific strategy and research axes (eg, high dimentional analysis and bioinformatics);
  • supporting the development of novel technologies and analysis tools (eg, single cell/High Density approaches, bioinformatics);
  • further supporting the development of clinical aspects (eg, biomarkers, trials).

On the basis of the momentum generated by the initial LabEx IGO, its positive indicators and its 5-year extension supported by a funding of 2.2 M€, the main objectives of the LabEx IGO are now to:

  • Accelerate the identification of novel immunotherapeutic targets & pathways in oncology, transplantation and autoimmunity;
  • Improve standardization, feasibility, efficacy and monitoring of molecular and cellular immunotherapies with a particular focus on combined strategies;
  • Broaden the clinical indications of existing immuno-modulating or -depleting therapies and design novel strategies with enhanced efficacy;
  • Analyze the dynamics of expression of selected markers along the development of pathologies and the therapeutic responses to provide clinicians novel prognosis tools.


This strategy of bringing together different immunology and immunotherapy fields has the objective not only to increase the quality and richness of the immunology research but also to bring together teams that would actively work together to develop and strengthen the coherence of the education offered in our universities, to share equipment by investing in new technologies and to increase the international visibility and attractiveness of the associated laboratories. The LabEx IGO thus supports education and various communication and animation activities to stimulate internal and external collaborations. It also develops valorization of scientific results.
 


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