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CCBIO seminar: Satu Mustjoki

Immunogenicity in hematological malignancies and immunological effects of targeted therapy

Satu Mustjoki
Hematology Research Unit Helsinki, Department of Clinical Chemistry and Hematology, University of Helsinki and Helsinki University Hospital Comprehensive Cancer Center, Finland

Cancer immunotherapy has shown great promise in the treatment of solid tumors such as in metastatic melanoma. In hematologic malignancies immunotherapy remains largely unstudied, and its feasibility has not been proven yet. Furthermore, neither all solid tumor types nor every patient is responsive to immunotherapy. Thus, biomarkers are needed to guide patient selection (personalized medicine), and to provide on-treatment indicators of response. In addition, the spectrum and efficacy of immunotherapy might be further enhanced by previously undetermined immunomodulatory effects of conventional cancer drugs.

Previously, our research group has examined the role of the immune system in chronic myeloid leukemia (CML) and revealed the novel immunomodulatory effects of tyrosine kinase inhibitors (TKIs). Our recent data has also highlighted the role of natural killer (NK) cells in maintaining the remission after TKI discontinuation. We have now aimed to comprehensively characterize the expression of immune checkpoint molecules and other immune response markers both in CML and acute leukemia and to identify patients who are most likely to benefit from immunotherapy. In CML we have developed a novel risk stratification model for predicting the current treatment goal of TKI therapy. The combination of immune markers seems to perform better than conventional risk scores warranting the testing of immunomodulatory drugs in future CML treatment aiming at the cure of patients.

Chairperson: Bjørn Tore Gjertsen, CCBIO