Translational Tumor Immunology

Despite considerable efforts and investments, cancer treatment remains an enormous challenge. There is a growing recognition of the pivotal role played by the immune system in cancer progression and response to therapy. Consequently, innovative immune-based approaches are emerging to revolutionize the management of this disease. Indeed, the increasing use of immunotherapy has become a promising option, offering hope to combat advanced forms of several types of cancer, though its success remains somewhat limited.
Our group collaborates closely with clinical professionals, to delve deep into the intricates of cancer immunobiology, focusing particularly on Breast Cancer, to expand our understanding of how certain subsets of immune cells either facilitate or hinder tumor growth and metastasis.
Employing patient samples and advanced 3D culture models, our primary goal is to establish whether distinct immune features within the tumor microenvironment or in patients’ blood could serve as reliable predictive or prognostic biomarkers and to guide the development of novel immune-based therapeutics. Ultimately, our goal is to translate the scientific advances we uncover into tangible improvements in cancer treatments, thereby contributing to the battle against this disease and positively impacting the lives of patients.
Graphical Abstract

31-10-2025- NeutroTarget - A novel subset of immunosuppressive neutrophils as a biomarker and a therapeutic target in metastatic Breast Cancer (Funded by: Caixa Impulse Health Innovation 2023 from La Caixa Foundation)

This project links human circulating low density neutrophils to poorer outcomes in Breast Cancer (BC). We identified a novel subset within these cells, with exceptional immunosuppressive traits, potentially impacting immunotherapy success. We are currently dissecting its potential as a predictive biomarker and therapeutic target to enhance BC treatment strategies.

- Ferreira AC, Mendes M, Silva C, Cotovio P, Aires I, Navarro D, Caeiro F, Ramos R, Salvador R, Correia BF, Cabral MG, Nolasco F, Ferreira A. Improvement of Mineral and Bone Disorders After Renal Transplantation. Transplantation. 2022, May 1; 106(5):e251-e261. doi: 10.1097/TP.0000000000004099.

- Coelho S, Cabral MG, Salvador R, Andrade C, Martins A, Correia BF, Freitas P, Cruzado JM, Jacinto A. Urinary immune cell phenotype of severe AKI in critically ill patients. International Urology and Nephrology. 2022, Jan 23; 54, 2047–2055.

- Saraiva DP, Correia BF, Salvador R, de Sousa N, Jacinto A, Braga Sofia, Cabral MG. Circulating low density neutrophils of breast cancer patients are associated with their worse prognosis due to the impairment of T cell responses. Oncotarget. 2021, Nov 23; 12:2388-2403.

- Silva G, Sales-Dias J, Casal Diogo, Alves S, Domenici G, Barreto C, Matos C, Lemos AR, Matias AT, Kucheryava K, Ferreira A, Moita MR, Braga S, Brito C, Cabral MG, Casalou C, Barral DC, Sousa PMF, Videira PA, Bandeiras TM, Barbas A. Development of Dl1.72, a Novel Anti-DLL1 Antibody with Anti-Tumor Efficacy against Estrogen Receptor-Positive Breast Cancer". Cancers. 2021, Aug 13; 13(16):4074.

- Saraiva DP, Azeredo-Lopes S, Antunes A, Salvador R, Borralho P, Assis B, Pereira Isabel L, Seabra Z, Negreiros I, Jacinto A, Braga S, Cabral MG. Expression of HLA-DR in Cytotoxic T Lymphocytes: A Validated Predictive Biomarker and a Potential Therapeutic Strategy in Breast Cancer. Cancers. 2021, Jul 30;  13(15), 3841.

- Gonçalves J, Sousa RL, Jacinto MJ, Silva DA, Paula F, Sousa R, Zahedi Sara, Carvalho J, Cabral MG, Costa M, Branco JC, Canhão H, Alves JD, Rodrigues AM, Soares H. Evaluating SARS-CoV-2 Seroconversion Following Relieve of Confinement Measures. Frontiers in Medicine. 2020, Dec 18; 7.

- Saraiva DP. Matias AT, Braga S, Jacinto A, Cabral MG. Establishment of a 3D Co-culture With MDA-MB-231 Breast Cancer Cell Line and Patient-Derived Immune Cells for Application in the Development of Immunotherapies. Frontiers in Oncology. 2020, Aug 27;  10.

- Saraiva DP, Jacinto A, Borralho P, Braga S, Cabral MG. HLA-DR in Cytotoxic T Lymphocytes Predicts Breast Cancer Patients' Response to Neoadjuvant Chemotherapy. Frontiers in Immunology. 2018, Nov 13; 9:2605.

- Saraiva DP, Cabral MG, Jacinto A, Braga S. How many diseases is triple negative breast cancer: the protagonism of the immune microenvironment. ESMO Open. 2017; 2-4:e000208.

2023 – CaixaImpulse Health Innovation Grant – la Caixa Foundation

2023 – Best Paper Award - Portuguese Nephrology Society

2021 – Grant iNOVA4Health (UIBD/04462/2020)

2020 – Scicare – Health Science Accelerator Program - Novartis

2019 – Terry Fox Research Grant - Liga Portuguesa Contra o Cancro

2019 – Pfizer Prize in Clinical Investigation – Pfizer/Medical Sciences Society of Lisbon

2018 – Award “Research Grants in Medicine” – Tagus Tank Consortium

Principal Investigator

Maria de Guadalupe Gonçalves Cabral
Professora Auxiliar Convidada


Sofia Braga
Clinical Fellow
Rute Salvador
PhD Student
Bruna Correia
PhD Student
Daniela Grosa
MSc Student
Inês Brites
MSc Student
Telma Martins
Clinical Fellow