Researh & development



Cancer is a group of life-threatening diseases characterized by the uncontrolled growth of abnormal cells in the body. Conventional oncology treatments are not curative in advanced stages of the disease and often result in severe adverse side effects. Cancer immunotherapy, which harnesses the ability of the immune system to eliminate cancer cells, has emerged as a new way to treat cancer patients with improved efficacy and fewer side effects. We are investigating how a specific type of immune cell, called T cells, can recognize and eliminate cancer cells to provide long-lasting protective immunity. Our research focuses on deciphering the molecular and cellular networks that underlie effective T cell-mediated immunity against solid tumors and metastases. Ultimately, we aim to use this knowledge to improve cancer immunotherapy in the future.

  • Research Head: Alvaro Lladser, PhD
  • Research Associates: Vincenzo Borgna, MD, PhD
  • Postdoctoral Fellows: Sofía Hidalgo, PhD • Farides Saavedra, PhD • Andrés Hernández-Oliveras, PhD • Diego Figueroa, PhD • Ximena López, PhD
  • Doctoral Students: Vincenzo Benedetti • Marco Fraga • Sergio Hernández
  • Magister Students: Juan Pablo Vega
  • Undergraduate Students: Javiera Reyes • Felipe Ardiles
  • Research Assistants: Vicente Saavedra

  • Valentina Retamal (Undergraduate student, graduated in 2022)
  • Francisca Hofmann (Magister student, graduated in 2022).
  • Pablo Contreras (Undergraduate student, graduated in 2022).
  • Brian Sirguiado (Undergraduate student, graduated in 2021).
  • Pablo Cáceres (Magister student, graduated in 2019), currently research assistant at Universidad Mayor, Chile.
  • Evelyn Menares (PhD student, graduated in 2019), currently at Becton Dickinson, Chile.
  • Juan Saavedra (Undergraduate student, graduated in 2019), currently PhD student at Universidad de Chile, Chile.
  • Javiera Gómez (Undergraduate student, graduated in 2019).
  • Felipe Gálvez (Undergraduate student and PhD student, graduated in 2018), currently Postdoctoral Fellow at University College London, UK.
  • Ernesto López (Undergraduate student and Magister student, graduated in 2018), currently Postdoctoral Fellow at The Institute of Cancer Research, UK.
  • Ornella Chovar (Magister student, graduated in 2018), currently PhD student at Universidad San Sebastian, Chile.
  • Sebastián Cruz (Undergraduate student and Magister student, graduated in 2017), currently Postdoctoral Fellow at Yale University.
  • Nicole Rojas (PhD student, graduated in 2016), currently at FONDEF, ANID, Chile.
  • Eduardo Durán (Magister student, graduated in 2016), currently at Instituto de Salud Publica, Chile.
  • Camila Flores (Undergraduate student, graduated in 2016), currently research assistant at Achilles Therapeutics, London, UK.
  • Nicole Araya (Undergraduate student, graduated in 2016), currently at Microx, Chile.
  • Paola Murgas (Postdoctoral fellow 2012-2016), currently at Universidad Austral, Chile.
  • César Oyarce (PhD student, graduated in 2015), currently scientist at HUB Organoids, Netherlands.
  • Maarten Ligtenberg (PhD student, graduated in 2015), currently CEO and Co-founder at Immagene, Netherlands.
  • Nicolás Bustamante (Magister student, graduated in 2014).
  • Andrés Herrada (Postdoctoral fellow 2011-2012), currently group leader at Universidad Autónoma, Talca, Chile.
  • Jonathan Roco (Undergraduate student, graduated in 2012), currently postdoctoral fellow at John Curtin School for Medical Research, Australia.
  • Paula González (Undergraduate student, graduated in 2012), currently postdoctoral fellow at John Curtin School for Medical Research, Australia.

National Collaborations:
• Dr. Rodrigo Pacheco (Fundación Ciencia & Vida, Universidad San Sebastián).
• Dr. Hugo González (Fundación Ciencia & Vida).
• Dr. Manuel Varas (Universidad San Sebastián).
• Dr. Flavio Salazar (Universidad de Chile).
• Dr. Daniela Sauma (Universidad de Chile).
• Dr. Fabiola Osorio (Universidad de Chile).

International Collaborations:
• Dr. Eliane Piaggio (Curie Institute, France).
• Dr. Sergio Quezada (University College London, UK).
• Dr. Felipe Gálvez-Cancino (University College London, UK).
• Dr. Rolf Kiessling (Karolinska Institute, Sweden).
• Dr. Andreas Lundqvist (Karolinska Institute, Sweden).


Ligtenberg M. A., Mougiakakos D., Mukhopadhyay M., Witt K., Lladser A., Chmielewski M., Riet T., Abken H., Kiessling R. Coexpressed catalase protects chimeric antigen receptor-redirected T cells as well as bystander cells from oxidative stress-induced loss of antitumor activity. J. Immunol. 196(2):759 (2016)

Contreras F., Prado C., González H., Franz D., Osorio-Barrios F., Osorio F., Ugalde V., Lopez E., Elgueta D., Figueroa A., Lladser A., Pacheco R. Dopamine receptor D3 signaling on CD4+ T cells favors Th1- and Th17-mediated immunity. J. Immunol. 196(10):4143 (2016)

Fernandez D., Flores-Santibañez F., Neira J., Osorio F., Tejón G., Nuñez S., Hidalgo Y., Fuenzalida M. J., Meza D., Ureta G., Lladser A., Pacheco R., Acuña-Castillo C., Guixé V., Quintana F. J., Bono M. R., Rosemblatt M., Sauma D. Purinergic signaling as a regulator of Th17 cell plasticity. Plos One 11(6):e0157889. DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0157889 (2016)

Ligtenberg M. A., Witt K., Gálvez-Cancino F., Sette A., Lladser A., Kiessling R. Cripto-1 vaccination elicits protective immunity against metastatic melanoma. Oncoimmunology 5(5):e1128613, DOI: 10.1080/2162402X.2015.1128613 (2016)

Figueroa C., Gálvez-Cancino F., Oyarce C., Contreras F., Prado C., Valeria C., Cruz S., Lladser A., Pacheco R. Inhibition of dopamine receptor D3 signaling in dendritic cells increases antigen cross-presentation to CD8+ T-cells favoring anti-tumor immunity. J Neuroimmunol. 303:99-107. doi: 10.1016/j.jneuroim.2016.12.014 (2017)

Gálvez-Cancino F, Roco J, Rojas-Colonelli N, Flores C, Murgas P, Cruz-Gómez S, Oyarce C, Varas-Godoy M, Sauma D, Lladser A*. A short hairpin RNA-based adjuvant targeting NF-κB repressor IκBα promotes migration of dermal dendritic cells to draining lymph nodes and antitumor CTL responses induced by DNA vaccination. Vaccine. 2017 Jul 24;35(33):4148-4154

Oyarce C, Cruz-Gomez S, Galvez-Cancino F, Vargas P, Moreau HD, Diaz-Valdivia N, Diaz J, Salazar-Onfray FA, Pacheco R, Lennon-Dumenil AM, Quest AFG, Lladser A*. Caveolin-1 Expression Increases upon Maturation in Dendritic Cells and Promotes Their Migration to Lymph Nodes Thereby Favoring the Induction of CD8+ T Cell Responses. Front Immunol. 2017 Dec 13;8:1794. doi: 10.3389/fimmu.2017.01794. eCollection 2017

Varas-Godoy M, Lladser A, Farfan N, Villota C, Villegas J, Tapia JC, Burzio LO, Burzio VA, Valenzuela PDT. In vivo knockdown of antisense noncoding mitochondrial RNAs by a lentiviral-encoded shRNA inhibits melanoma tumor growth and lung colonization. Pigment Cell Melanoma Res. 2018 Jan;31(1):64-72

Murgas P, Bustamante N, Araya N, Cruz-Gómez S, Durán E, Gaete D, Oyarce C, López E, Herrada AA, Ferreira N, Pieringer H, Lladser A. A filamentous bacteriophage targeted to carcinoembryonic antigen induces tumor regression in mouse models of colorectal cancer. Cancer Immunol Immunother. 2018 Feb;67(2):183-193

Flores-Santibáñez F, Cuadra B, Fernández D, Rosemblatt MV, Núñez S, Cruz P, Gálvez-Cancino F, Cárdenas JC, Lladser A, Rosemblatt M, Bono MR, Sauma D. In Vitro-Generated Tc17 Cells Present a Memory Phenotype and Serve As a Reservoir of Tc1 Cells In Vivo. Front Immunol. 2018 Feb 8;9:209. doi: 10.3389/fimmu.2018.00209. eCollection 2018

Prado C, Gaiazzi M, González H, Ugalde V, Figueroa A, Osorio-Barrios F, Lopez E, Lladser A, Rasini E, Marino F, Zaffaroni M, Cosentino M, Pacheco R. Dopaminergic stimulation of myeloid antigen-presenting cells attenuates STAT3-activation favouring the development of experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis. Front Immunol. 2018 Mar 21;9:571. doi: 10.3389/fimmu.2018.00571. eCollection 2018

Reading J, Gálvez-Cancino F, Swanton C, Lladser A, Peggs K, Quezada S. The function and dysfunction of memory CD8+ T cells in tumor immunity. Immunological Reviews. 2018;283(1):194-212. doi: 10.1111/imr.12657

Gálvez-Cancino F, López E, Menares E, Díaz X, Flores C, Cáceres P, Hidalgo S, Chovar O, Alcántara-Hernández M, Borgna V, Varas-Godoy M, Salazar-Onfray F, Idoyaga J, Lladser A*. Vaccination-induced skin-resident memory CD8+ T cells mediate strong protection against cutaneous melanoma. Oncoimmunology. 2018;7(7). Article: e1442163. doi: 10.1080/2162402X.2018.1442163

Witt K, Ligtenberg MA, Conti L, Lanzardo S, Ruiu R, Wallmann T, Tufvesson-Stiller H, Chambers BJ, Rolny C, Lladser A, Lundqvist A, Cavallo F, Kiessling R. Cripto-1 plasmid DNA vaccination targets metastasis and cancer stem cells in murine mammary carcinoma. Cancer Immunology Research. 2018 Aug 24. pii: canimm.0572.2017. doi: 10.1158/2326-6066.CIR-17-0572

Medel B, Costoya C, Fernandez D, Pereda C, Lladser A, Sauma D, Pacheco R, Iwawaki T, Salazar-Onfray F, Osorio F. IRE1α Activation in Bone Marrow-Derived Dendritic Cells Modulates Innate Recognition of Melanoma Cells and Favors CD8+ T Cell Priming. Front Immunol. 9:3050. doi: 10.3389/fimmu.2018.03050 (2019) | PDF

Mora JJ, Del Campo M, Villar J, Paolini F, Curzio G, Venuti A, Jara L, Ferreira J, Murgas P, Lladser A, Manubens A, Becker MI. Immunotherapeutic potential of mollusk hemocyanins in combination with human vaccine adjuvants in murine models of oral cancer. J Immunol Res. 2019:7076942. doi: 10.1155/2019/7076942 (2019) | PDF

Prado C, Ugalde V, González H, Figueroa A, López E, Lladser A, Pacheco R. STAT3 Activation in Combination with NF-KappaB Inhibition Induces Tolerogenic Dendritic Cells with High Therapeutic Potential to Attenuate Collagen-Induced Arthritis. J Immunol Res. 2019:1982570. doi: 10.1155/2019/1982570 (2019) | PDF

Arce M, Pinto MP, Galleguillos M, Muñoz C, Lange S, Ramirez C, Erices R, Gonzalez P, Velasquez E, Tempio F, Lopez MN, Salazar-Onfray F, Cautivo K, Kalergis AM, Cruz S, Lladser A, Lobos-González L, Valenzuela G, Olivares N, Sáez C, Koning T, Sánchez FA, Fuenzalida P, Godoy A, Contreras Orellana P, Leyton L, Lugano R, Dimberg A, Quest AFG, Owen GI. Coagulation Factor Xa Promotes Solid Tumor Growth, Experimental Metastasis and Endothelial Cell Activation. Cancers (Basel). 11(8):1103. doi: 10.3390/cancers11081103 (2019) | PDF

Menares E, Gálvez-Cancino F, Cáceres-Morgado P, Ghorani E, López E, Díaz X, Saavedra-Almarza J, Figueroa DA, Roa E, Quezada SA, Lladser A*. Resident memory CD8+ T cells amplify anti-tumor immunity by triggering antigen spreading through dendritic cells. Nature Communications. 10(1):4401. doi: 10.1038/s41467-019-12319-x (2019) | PDF

Lillo P, Núñez O, Castro-Sepúlveda M, Torres-Quintana MA, Lladser Á, Quest AFG, Espinoza C, Llanos P, Wehinger S. Loss of Caveolin-1 Is Associated with a Decrease in Beta Cell Death in Mice on a High Fat Diet. Int J Mol Sci. 23;21(15):5225. doi: 10.3390/ijms21155225 (2020) | PDF

Sanhueza C, Bennett JC, Valenzuela-Valderrama M, Contreras P, Lobos-González L, Campos A, Wehinger S, Lladser Á, Kiessling R, Leyton L, Quest AFG. Caveolin-1-Mediated Tumor Suppression Is Linked to Reduced HIF1α S-Nitrosylation and Transcriptional Activity in Hypoxia. Cancers (Basel). 20;12(9):E2349. doi: 10.3390/cancers12092349 (2020) | PDF

Cáceres-Morgado P, Lladser A. Tumor-Specific CD8+ T-Cell Responses Induced by DNA Vaccination. Methods Mol Biol. 2197:225-239. doi: 10.1007/978-1-0716-0872-2_12 (2021) | PDF

Bourdely P, Vaivode K, Anselmi G, Ramos RN, Missolo Y, Hidalgo S, Tosselo J, Nuñez N, Richer W, Vincent-Salomon A, Saxena A, Wood K, Lladser A, Piaggio E, Helft J, Guermonprez P. Transcriptional and functional analysis of CD1c+ human dendritic cells identifies a CD163+ subset priming CD8+CD103+ T cells. Immunity. 53(2):335-352.e8. doi: 10.1016/j.immuni.2020.06.002. (2020) | PDF

Principal investigator

Álvaro Lladser, PhD