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Molecular Oncology & Immunology

Divisions

Groups within research area Molecular Oncology & Immunology

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Daniel Peeper

Division
Molecular Oncology & Immunology
Specialisation
Functional Oncogenomics

Introduction

The Peeper laboratory develops and uses function-based genomic approaches to better understand the mechanistic principles of cancer progression, and to identify novel therapeutic targets for achieving more durable clinical responses for cancer patients. We have two main strategies: first, we wish to increase our understanding of how cancer cells originate and function, define their rewired signaling networks and subsequently expose their weaknesses. This will allow for the identification of specific and pharmacologically tractable vulnerabilities. Second, we wish to determine how we can manipulate various cell types from the patient's own immune system to enhance their cytotoxicity towards tumor cells. This approach should uncover new therapeutic targets on immune cells. By focusing on these two main research arms, our objective is to contribute to the development of combinatorial therapies, which simultaneously eliminate the patients' tumor cells and harness their immune cells.

More about the Daniel Peeper group

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Christian Blank

Division
Molecular Oncology & Immunology
Specialisation
Combination of targeted and immunotherapy

Introduction

Both targeted and immunotherapy are currently the most promising therapy approaches for cancer patients. While targeted therapies are characterized by fast responses in a high percentage of patients, but short duration of the response, immunotherapy requires time to respond, induces in only subgroups of patients responses, but if they occur they are often long lasting and cure is possible. Thus the combination of such approaches might be synergistic in that way of increasing the response percentage and long-term outcome. Unfortunately the first phase 1 trial testing the combination of a BRAF inhibitor with CTLA-4 blockade in melanoma patients failed due to toxicity. Thus more preclinical work identifying the optimal combination partners in models resembling the patients is required.

More about the Christian Blank group

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John Haanen

Division
Molecular Oncology & Immunology
Specialisation
Translational Immunotherapy of Cancer

Introduction

John Haanen is a medical oncologist and immunologist, who spends about 50% of his time treating cancer patients in the Antoni van Leeuwenhoek hospital and 50% doing research at the NKI. His research is directed towards the development of novel immunotherapy-based strategies for the treatment of cancer patients. His focus at the moment is on treatment of advanced stage melanoma, but other types of cancer are likely to follow since immunotherapy appears to be effective beyond melanoma as well. John Haanen heads to clinical immunotherapy group that is involved in clinical trials focused on the treatment of advanced stage melanoma patients and metastatic renal cell carcinoma patients. These trials can be large multicenter phase II or III trials with novel agents or combinations, such as targeted agents (BRAF inhibitors, MEK inhibitors, VEGFR inhibitors, anti-CTLA4, anti-PD1, BRAFi +MEki) and immune checkpoint blockade (anti-CTLA4 + anti-PD1), and investigator initiated trials, including DNA vaccine-based trials, adoptive cell therapy with either tumor-infiltrating lymphocytes or TCR gene modified peripheral blood T-lymphocytes.

More about the John Haanen group

Kvistborg, Pia

Pia Kvistborg

Division
Molecular Oncology & Immunology
Specialisation
Cancer Immunology

Introduction

The main focus of our research is the functionality of T cells in cancer and dissecting which T cell traits that are required to raise a clinically successful anticancer T cell response.

It is clear that immunotherapy can be highly effective in human cancer, in particular for melanoma and lung cancer. Furthermore, evidence for a role of T cells as an 'active component' in cancer immunotherapy comes both from trials exploring the adoptive transfer of ex vivo expanded tumor-infiltrating lymphocytes (TIL therapy) and from trials exploring treatment with antibodies that target inhibitory receptors on T cells such as CTLA-4 and PD-1. In addition to immunotherapies, conventional therapies such as chemotherapy can also influence tumor-specific T cells. This impact can be via release of tumor-antigens, disruption of the tumor microenvironment, or through depletion of immune suppressive cells, thereby 'unleashing' the T cells.

More about the Pia Kvistborg group

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Ton Schumacher

Division
Molecular Oncology & Immunology
Specialisation
Cancer Immunology

Introduction

The Schumacher group develops and exploits innovative technologies to measure and manipulate T cell responses in preclinical model system and in clinical trials. Research interests include fundamental aspects of the generation of immune responses, and in particular cytotoxic T cell responses, as for instance can be obtained through in vivo lineage tracing. In addition, the research group has a strong interest in dissecting the mode of action of clinically effective immunotherapeutics using 'home-brewed' technologies. Finally, the group has a strong track record in the development of novel approaches for cancer immunotherapy, in particular focusing on gene-modified adoptive T cell therapies.

More about the Ton Schumacher group

Emile Voest

Emile Voest

Division
Molecular Oncology & Immunology
Specialisation

Introduction

My laboratory work is devoted to bringing personalized medicine to patients. It focuses on the impact of the host response on treatment outcome and the development of biomarkers that predict treatment efficacy. The results from such studies are subsequently translated in clinical studies. These translational approaches are performed across tumor types, with emphasis on epithelial tumors.

More about the Emile Voest group

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