Translational cancer immunotherapy group
Immunotherapy has emerged as a highly potent novel approach to cancer treatment. Our group aims to develop improved cancer treatment based on two particularly promising immunotherapy strategies:
- Development of tumor-targeting chimeric antigen receptors (CARs) for T cell therapy
- Development of optimized regimens for combining immunological checkpoint inhibitors with established cancer treatment (immunogenic chemotherapy, radiotherapy)
We aim to bring CAR T cell therapy to solid cancers. To achieve this, we target unexplored tumor antigens and develop novel concepts for harnessing CAR T cells and countering tumor tolerance. In the CAR projects, we make use of both permanently reprogrammed T cells and transient retargeting with mRNA-based, biodegradable receptors.
We have started three clinical trials in 2017/2018, ALICE , REPORT and ICON , combining immunological checkpoint inhibitors with established treatment modalities (immunogenic chemotherapy, radiotherapy). Intriguingly, although chemo- or radiotherapy may induce transient tumor regression by direct killing of cancer cells, compelling evidence suggests that the long-term effect often depends on mobilizing the host immune system. Our approach is to induce personalized immune responses by selected immunogenic chemo- or radiotherapy, and to release the brake on this immune response with PD-1 / PD-L1 and / or CTLA-4 blockade. We focus on patients with poor prognosis, thus addressing huge medical needs.In the trials, we employ regimens that arealready accepted as 1 st line therapy. This allows for evaluating the effects in patients who have not received multiple lines of therapy and are more likely to respond.
We have an extensive network of clinical collaborators. Based on biobank material from the studies mentioned above, and trials conducted by our clinical collaborators, we conduct translational studies aimed at identifying biomarkers and exploring the underlying mechanisms of response and resistance to treatment.
The group leader, Dr. Jon Amund Kyte, has combined expertise as a senior clinical oncologist and immunotherapy researcher. The Kyte group includes three PhD students at the Department of Oncology, all medical doctors, and four postdocs and two technicians at the laboratory group at the Dept. of Immunology.