In 1997, Professor Eric Vivier set up a laboratory specialised in the functional exploration of NK lymphocytes in Conception Hospital in Marseille. It thus contributes to the exploration of NK cells, and more generally of innate immune cells, in connection with specialised biology examinations as well as clinical research protocols.
Since 2017, this laboratory has been located at the Timone Hospital and has been labeled as a national reference laboratory for immune deficiencies along with the Imagine Institute in Paris (CEREDIH).
In 2015, MI won the DHU call for tender launched by A*MIDEX. Labelled by the Alliance for Life Sciences and Health (AVIESAN), this “super institute” MI-FHU, involving 13 hospital departments, 4 academic research centres, 6 innovation centres,4 industrials and Eurobiomed, leads the cluster’s collaborative R&D projects and education programmes.
Integrated in the immunology department of the APHM, our immunoplatform is exclusively dedicated to the diagnostic and therapeutic innovation in immunology. It undertakes two complementary missions: the immuno-monitoring of assays and research training.

Specialized biology

The laboratory performs phenotypic and functional characterization of most leukocyte subsets with a focus on lymphoid cells.
Recently, enumeration and functionality assays of circulating and tissue-resident Innate Lymphoid cells were also developed.
We established standard physical (phenotypical) and functional (cytotoxic activity, production of cytokines) values of T and NK lymphocytes and provided this battery of tests to clinicians.
An overview of the tests can be obtained from the following link: CEREDIH request form

Clinical research protocols

Clinical research activity is organised in 4 main programmes.

Programme 1: exploration of primitive NK immune deficit (ANR GRANT)

The aim of this first programme is to characterise the deficits (quantitative or qualitative) selectively affecting the NK cells. These so-called NK selective deficits are extremely rare, since few cases have been described in the literature, and some were recently challenged. The laboratory strives to identify the genetic anomalies implicated and other familial cases of NK deficit.
In collaboration with Pr J.L. Casanova and Dr E. Jouanguy (Imagine Institute, Paris and Rockfeller Institute, New-York)

Programme 2: ILC in humans (MSD-Avenir Funding)

HSC transplantation is the reference treatment of severe, non-malignant and malignant blood diseases. GvHD and immune deficiency inherent to the kinetics of reconstitution are two major immunological complications of HSC transplantation, and represent the main cause of mortality and post-transplant morbidity. Currently there is no way to efficiently predict the occurence of GvHD after HSC transplantation.

Aim 1. To determine whether the appearance of distinct ILC subsets in peripheral blood can be associated with clinical events post-graft such as GvHD in a large cohort of patients both in retrospective (Cryostem) and prospective studies.
In collaboration with Pr G. Michel, Dr V. Barlogis and Dr C. Galambrun (Department of Pediatric Hematology and Oncology, Timone Hospital, Marseille)

Aim 2. To determine whether a transcriptional signature can be associated with these distinct ILC subsets
ILC could be good candidates for cell therapy approach. Although recent data are avalaible according to transcriptomic profiles of ILC subsets, there is no information regarding the transcriptomic signatures of ILC subsets from distinct organs in the same donor. All organ samples will be obtained from cadaveric heart-beating donors.
In collaboration with Pr J. Hardwingsen (Liver Surgery and Transplantation Unit, Timone Hospital, Marseille)


Programme 3: RHU PIONEER (Precision Immuno-Oncology for advanced Non-small cell lung cancer patients with PD-1 ICI Resistance) unity during viral infections

Lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer-related mortality in France and in western countries, accounting for more than 1.8 million new cases and 1.5 million deaths worldwide in 2012. Recently, immune check point inhibitors (ICI), firstly targeting PD-(L)1, became available and demonstrate an overall survival advantage over standard second-line chemotherapy both in squamous and non-squamous NSCLC. Unfortunately, this global overall survival benefit is driven by approximately 20% of the patient’s population while a large majority of patients is in fact progressing in the first weeks of treatment. Few data on blood or tissue biomarkers, at the time of PD-1 progression in NSCLC patients, are available to date.The PIONEER-bioprofiling study aimed to collect blood and tissue samples of advanced NSCLC patients progressing on PD-1 ICI in order to better understand the mechanism of resistance.
Our team will evaluate the predictive value of a group of immune biomarkers in Non-small cell lung cancer progressors patients
In collaboration with Pr Fabrice Barlesi (Multidisciplinary Oncology and Therapeutic Innovations, APHM, Marseille)


Programme 4: BIO-003 - Identification and functional characterization of leukocyte subsets, tumor cells and tumor microenvironment in solid tumors patients

Innate Pharma is discovering and developing first-in-class therapeutic antibodies that harness the innate immune system to improve cancer treatment and clinical outcomes for patients. The goal of their study is to qualify immunological function during tumor cells development of patients with solid tumors and induced changes with current therapeutic actions and to generate data that can be correlated with patient clinical status. They expect that the generated biological and clinical information could be used as a decision-support tool for the design and evaluation of new or improved immunotherapy.
Our team will compare the abundance and phenotype of leukocytes subsets in peripheral blood. We will try to identify phenotypic and soluble biomarkers associated with clinical response to standard anti-cancer treatments.
In collaboration with Dr Mathieu Bléry (Innate Pharma, Marseille)