Actualité - Immunotherapy

Eliane Piaggio: immunotherapy for all


Head of the TransImm team: Translational Immunotherapy, Eliane Piaggio won the first edition of the Curie award on November 7, 2017. We take a look at this charismatic scientist working behind the scenes to further the progress of immunotherapy.

Eliane Piaggio

Eliane Piaggio, immunologiste arrivée à l’Institut Curie en février 2013, a rejoint l’équipe de Sebastian Amigorena (unité immunité et cancer Inserm U932/Institut Curie) pour y mettre à profit sa…

All of her focus is on immunotherapy. Eliane Piaggio is from Argentina, and arrived at Institut Curie in 2013. Today she heads the translational immunology team, with its SIRIC (Integrated Cancer Research Site) status at the INSERM Immunity and Cancer unit. Eliane defines immunotherapy as “treating a cancer patient using his/her own immune system”. Her translational research team works closely with the basic research teams and clinical teams to coordinate early trials to decipher the underlying mechanisms related to the effectiveness - or non-effectiveness - of immunotherapy. The hospital-research connection is crucial: researchers base their work on observations or hypotheses from clinical practice and have access to samples taken from patients.

Immunotherapy: offering hope for all patients

The initial assumption is that although immunotherapy represents a revolution in cancer treatment, it is not effective in all patients. Eliane Piaggio and her team are devoting their efforts to understanding why, so that they can eventually provide solutions to this problem. Four areas of research are being explored:

  • studying how immunotherapy works
  • identifying biomarkers in order to eventually be able to determine which patients will benefit from which immunotherapy
  • developing personalized immunotherapies
  • comparing the effects of single therapies with those of combined therapies

The laboratory headed by Eliane Piaggio has embarked on the study of how immunotherapies act, and more specifically, is exploring the field of lymph nodes. These small organs are where immune cells proliferate and differentiate. Research is focusing on a detailed comparison between the immune profile of lymph nodes invaded by tumor cells and that of lymph nodes that have not been invaded.

“I am delighted to be working at Institut Curie; I feel like I’m working for a family business”. Eliane Piaggio feels this is part of the Curie spirit. But this is not her first professional adventure. Only after defending her thesis in Argentina, working for a medical analysis laboratory and doing two post-doctoral fellowships at Pitié Salpêtrière in Paris and the CPTP in Toulouse, did she join Institut Curie. She was also Secretary General of the French Immunology Society, she teaches university courses and regularly organizes seminars. This gifted and busy scientist sees her tenure at Institut Curie as a reward and an achievement. “After gaining a wealth of experience as a researcher in a number of laboratories, I have found the place where I want to stay.”