Immune monitoring in pediatric malignancies

Cancer immunotherapy has revolutionized the management and treatment of cancer in adults. However, it is largely unknown whether immunotherapy options deduced from adults are also the best options for treatment of cancer in children. Pediatric tumors have a very low mutational load and therefore yield very few actionable targets for immunotherapy. Additionally, the maturation status of a child’s immune system could have direct impact on efficacy of the treatment.

Within this project we aim to setup an extensive immune profiling program in order to get a better understanding of the functional dynamics of the pediatric immune system in association with the tumor landscape at diagnosis and in response to treatment. This will give us new insight in 1) what would be the best immune therapy option for a particular patient(group), 2) determining the best timing (and dose) for immune therapy (increase efficacy and limit toxicity) and 3) which biomarkers can best be used to monitor efficacy and toxicity of immunotherapy. The immune profiling will be performed for a broad range of pediatric malignancies with special focus on neuroblastoma and glioblastoma, since there is still a high unmet medical need in these patient groups. Together with the van Heesch group - focused on identifying novel targets for immune therapy via multi-omics technologies - we hope to combine our obtained knowledge to eventually be able to develop novel immunotherapy options for these patient groups.

Joyce Meesters - Ensing