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Studies to optimize selection for immunomodulatory cancer therapy with focus on immunoPET

PhD ceremony:Ms I.C. (Iris) Kok
When:September 23, 2021
Supervisor:prof. dr. E.G.E. (Elisabeth) de Vries
Co-supervisors:dr. M. (Hilde) Jalving, dr. D.J.A. de Groot
Where:Academy building RUG

Immune checkpoint inhibitors have led to a paradigm shift in the treatment of metastasized cancer, because these drugs can lead to impressive tumor responses, whereby long-term disease-free survival can now actually be achieved. As a consequence, the oncology field has become a top therapeutic research area for new immunomodulatory drugs, requiring enormous resources. These medicines engage the immune system to recognize and target tumor cells. Biomarkers that can predict which patients have an increased chance of responding to immunomodulatory cancer therapy are still very scarce. Research in this thesis encompasses first-in-human studies with 89Zirkonium-radiolabeled immunomodulatory cancer medicines visualized with Position Emission Tomography to increase our understanding of the complex interaction between the patient’s immune system and the tumor, the kinetic behavior of immunomodulatory medicines, assess the presence of target expression in- and outside the tumor, assess if the drug target can be saturated and, most important, to predict which patient will benefit from immunomodulatory cancer therapy, with the aim to optimize drug development and patient selection.