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Jarno Drost

10B. Immunomodulation of SWI/SNF-mutated pediatric malignancie

Although the prognosis of children with cancer has improved significantly during the last decades, childhood cancers driven by mutations in epigenetic modulators remain one of the big challenges in pediatric oncology. Even with aggressive treatments of combined chemotherapy, radiation and surgical resection, the prognosis remains universally dismal.

Recently, cytotoxic T-cell infiltration and expression of immunomodulatory markers such as PD-L1 have been reported for childhood cancers driven by mutations in epigenetic modulators. Although initial results from the clinic indicate that checkpoint inhibition may be a potential treatment option, patients typically relapse under monotherapy. Therefore, more effective combination treatment strategies or novel tumor-specific therapeutic targets need to be developed. To date however, preclinical human models to assess immunotherapeutic treatment response are not available.

We hypothesize that the block in differentiation during fetal development underpinning tumorigenesis could preserve unique embryonic antigens, which are no longer present in matured tissues. Such antigens could serve as unique, tumor-specific therapeutic targets. Within this project, we aim to develop immunotherapeutic treatment strategies using a cutting-edge proteomics approach in combination with unique patient-derived organoid and immune cell co-culture models.

Necessary skills for this position:

  • Master’s degree in biomedical sciences (molecular/cellular biology and/or immunology), or an equivalent thereof
  • Preferably a demonstrated experience in cell culture and molecular biological techniques

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