Translational cancer immunotherapy group
Immunotherapy has emerged as a highly potent novel approach for cancer treatment. Our group aims to develop improved cancer treatment based on two particularly promising strategies for immunotherapy:
- Development of tumor-targeting chimeric antigen receptors (CARs) for T cell therapy
- Development of optimized regimes for combining immunological checkpoint inhibitors with established cancer treatment (immunogenic chemotherapy, radiotherapy)
We aim at bringing 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, though 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 regimes that are already accepted as 1st line therapy. This allows for evaluating the effects in patients that 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 above mentioned studies, 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 senior clinical oncologist and immunotherapy researcher. The Kyte group includes three PhD-students at the Department of Oncology, all medical doctors, and 3 postdocs and a technician at the laboratory group at Dept. of Immunology.