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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 is in the brand-new Division of Molecular Oncology and Immunology at NKI. We develop and use function-based genomic approaches to better understand the mechanistic principles of cancer progression, and to identify novel therapeutic targets and predictive biomarkers for achieving more durable clinical responses for cancer patients. We have two main strategies. First, we want to increase our understanding of how cancer cells function and rewire their signaling networks. This will expose their weaknesses and allow or the identification of pharmacologically tractable vulnerabilities. Second, we are manipulating various cell types from the patient's own immune system to enhance their specific cytotoxicity towards tumor cells. Also this approach should uncover new therapeutic targets, on immune cells. With these strategies, we aim to contribute to the development of combinatorial therapies, which simultaneously eliminate the patients' tumor cells and harness their immune cells.

PI Daniel Peeper and Christian Blank (a clinician researcher) recently engaged in a partnership to complement our basic, translational and clinical fields of expertise. This warrants not only the clinical relevance of our research questions, but also facilitates translation of our laboratory findings (therapeutic targets, prognostic and predictive biomarkers) to the clinic, particularly by initiating trials that are run here at NKI.

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 immunotherapies have become successful therapy approaches for various malignancies. With the growing understanding of pre-requisites for effective cancer immunotherapies ('The Cancer Immunogram') the next step will be identifying combinations of targeted and immunotherapies that modulate the tumor environment in a favorable manner. To address these questions clinicians and basic researchers have to work closely together to analyze large batches of patients' tumor material and simulate treatment combinations if preclinical models.

 

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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