Research team

Acquired immunity and immunologic aspects of SARS-CoV-2 infection a population of patients and healthcare workers in Multidisciplinary Oncologic Centres. (MOCOR-Study). 01/06/2020 - 31/05/2021

Abstract

COVID-19 is a disease caused by an infectious outbreak of the SARS-CoV-2 virus. Today, the virus is widely spread throughout the world and declared by the World Health Organisation (WHO) as a pandemic. There are a broad range of clinical presentations of a SARS-CoV-2 viral infection varying from asymptomatic, sensation of a mild cold or flu to severe bilateral pneumonia and death. The mortality is the highest in the elderly and in people with a pre-existing condition such as cancer. In addition, it has already been shown that in patients with a severe COVID-19 infection the cytokine levels in the blood are very high, which can lead to organ failure. Since in cancer patients cytokine production is already increased by their disease and by treatment, this implies a higher susceptibility to develop severe COVID-19 when an exaggerated immune response to this virus produces even more cytokines ("cytokine storm"). The aim of this project is to be able to detect preventively when there is a risk of developing a "cytokine storm" so that potential therapy such as cytokine inhibitors can be used. To accomplish this, the response of the immune system to SARS-Cov2 infection will be mapped in this project. This will be done by performing immunological tests on blood samples from cancer patients and a healthcare workers the same oncology units who seropositive for the SARS-CoV-2 infection. Both blood samples from symptomatic and asymptomatic COVID-19 subjects will be examined immunologically. The immunological tests include immunoassays, flow cytometry and immunomethylomics. The collection of blood samples has already started at the end of March 2020 and the inclusion period is 3 months, so that the early phase, the peak phase and the foreseen decline of the pandemic are included. Cancer patients are asked to take additional blood samples during routine blood samples. A monthly blood sample is requested from the group of healthcare workers (4 samples per participant). First of all, the seropositive samples will be detected on the basis of a serological test. These results also provide insight into the proportion of infected high-risk patients in a hospital environment. On the basis of the immunological tests, the immune response will be compared between the symptomatic cancer patients and asymptomatic cancer patients and matched controlled healthcare workers. In this way, immunological risk factors for the development of severe COVID-19 can be identified and a new outbreak can be controlled in a scientifically responsible manner.

Researcher(s)

Research team(s)

Feasibility and safety of a WT1-targeted cancer vaccine in patients with malignant mesothelioma and locally advanced breast cancer: an open label phase I trial. 01/01/2011 - 31/12/2013

Abstract

The Wilms' tumor 1 (WTI) protein has been shown to be a universal tumor antigen overexpressed in many tumors, including malignant mesothelioma and breast carcinoma. In view of the T cell immunogenicity of WTI-derived peptides, immunostimulatory dendritic cells loaded with WT1 antigen hold promise as a universal, yet patient-specific, polyepitope cancer vaccine to treat residual disease. Here, autologous monocyte-derived dendritic cells will be transfected with mRNA coding for the entire WT1 antigen and injected intradermally as a cellular cancer vaccine in mesothelioma and breast cancer patients as adjuvant treatment after optimal debulking or after neo-adjuvant chemotherapy. In this project, we want to investigate the safety, feasibility and immunogenicity of such WTI-targeted cancer vaccine in an open-label phase I trial.

Researcher(s)

Research team(s)