Prof. Pierre van der Bruggen
Pierre van der Bruggen completed in 1982 studies in the Faculty of Agronomy at the Université catholique de Louvain and, in 1987, a Ph.D in Agronomical Sciences on a fungus pathogenic for cassava. In 1988, he joined the research group of Thierry Boon at the Ludwig Institute for Cancer Research. He became Associate Professor in 2000 at the Medical Faculty of the Université catholique de Louvain, where he is now Full Professor.
Pierre van der Bruggen identified in 1991 the first human gene, MAGE-1, coding for a tumor antigen recognized by cytolytic T lymphocytes. He and his group identified over the years several other cancer germline genes and defined a large number of antigenic peptides, which are encoded by these genes and recognized on tumors by CD8 or CD4 T lymphocytes. Efforts have then been devoted to set up assays that accurately monitor CD4+ T cell responses to cancer vaccines. The group was also involved in the study of MAGE-3-specific regulatory T cells and is currently focused on dysfunctions of human tumor-infiltrating lymphocytes.
His group has discovered a new type of dysfunction of human tumor-infiltrating lymphocytes, due to the presence of galectin-3, a lectin abundant in tumors. T cell dysfunction was corrected by galectin ligands and anti-galectin-3 antibodies. The group is further analyzing the mechanisms by which galectin ligands reverse the impaired function and is looking for agents that correct this function.
Dr. Allard Kaptein
Allard Kaptein completed in 1988 studies in the Faculty of Molecular Sciences at the Agricultural University Wageningen and, in 1993 received a Ph.D in Biopharmaceutical Sciences from the University of Leiden on the thesis “Regulation of the Synthesis and Secretion of Apolipoprotein A-I, Apolipoprotein B100 and Lipoprotein(a) in Cultured Hepatocytes” based on work done at the Gaubius Institute TNO in Leiden.
Dr Kaptein joined the pharmaceutical industry in 1994 and worked in different project and line management positions at Glaxo(Wellcome), Organon, Schering Plough and MSD, on cardiovascular disease, autoimmune disease and oncology. Dr Kaptein led the activities for the BTK inhibitor programs at Organon, Schering Plough and MSD. The work on the covalent BTK inhibitor program was the base for the identification of acalabrutinib.
Dr Kaptein is one of the founders of Acerta Pharma and in his current role is responsible for new targets and programs for the company as well as preclinical work supporting acalabrutinib development activities. Acerta Pharma is a leader in the field of covalent binding technology applied to create novel, highly selective therapies for cancer. In October 2017, the Food and Drug Administration approved acalabrutinib for the treatment of mantle cell lymphoma in patients who had previously been treated with another therapy.