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Rossig group

We develop cellular immunotherapeutic strategies against pediatric cancers, with a focus on CAR engineering of T cells. Effective CAR targeting of solid tumors needs to overcome antigen-negative tumor escape and immune-inhibitory barriers in the tumor microenvironment. We employ CAR T cell micropharmacy designs to selectively deliver antigen-inducible functional enhancers and anticancer agents into the tumor niche, for a combinatorial mechanism of action.

Immunotherapy with T cells engineered to recognize cancer cells via chimeric antigen receptors (CARs) has shown impressive clinical efficacy against leukemias. In solid tumors, lack of adequate target antigens and barriers in the tumor microenvironment together impede the action of CAR T cell therapeutics.

We aim to develop effective combinatorial strategies to enhance the potency of CAR T cells against various pediatric solid tumors.

'Let us empower immune cells to defend children and adolescents against cancer' Dr. Claudia Rossig - Affiliated group leader
Dr. Claudia Rossig

In an advanced project now close to clinical investigation, T cells are engineered to express a CAR with integrated secretion of IL-18, a strong functional enhancer of T cell functions and modulator of the myeloid tumor cell compartment, for local delivery to the tumor site. Whereas our lead candidate is directed against the surface ganglioside GD2, expressed in most neuroblastomas and some osteosarcomas and Ewing sarcomas, future IL-18 enhanced CAR T cells will have additional antigen recognition domains to extend the spectrum of targetable pediatric cancers.

Novel one-vector engineering strategies endow CAR T cells with additional therapeutic modes of action, for synergistic effects within the tumor niche and elimination of tumor cells also with low target expression.

Overall, we stride to translate novel CAR T cell therapies in academic pediatric clinical studies across Europe. Academic manufacturing of engineered T cell products with decentralized supply will be a key to success.

Rössig group