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Jane and Aatos Erkko Foundation grant to develop immunotherapy for malignant brain cancer

Published on 3.11.2022
Tampere University
kuvituskuvassa aivojen kolmiulotteinen opetusmalli
Jane and Aatos Erkko Foundation has awarded a 1,498,000 euro grant to a research project developing targeted immunotherapy for the treatment of malignant glioma. The project brings together three leading researchers and their groups: Professor Seppo Ylä-Herttuala at the University of Eastern Finland, Professor Vincenzo Cerullo at the University of Helsinki and Professor Dario Greco at Tampere University.

Glioma is a malignant brain tumour. The most common of its various subtypes, and also the one with the worst prognosis, is glioblastoma, which still remains incurable. The project now funded by Jane and Aatos Erkko Foundation seeks to combine the research groups’ different approaches to the development of novel and tailored immunotherapeutic treatments for glioblastoma. The project will also develop new research models based on patient glioma samples, explore antigenic repertoire of gliomata, and develop novel machine learning based tools for their rapid identification. 

Professor Cerullo’s research group, IVTLab, is one of the leading oncolytic virus groups in the world. The group has developed a method for the identification of tumour antigens, allowing their targeting with cancer immunotherapy. The group has developed oncolytic viruses and bacteria carrying tumour antigens, which induce a strong immune response to the tumour.

Professor Ylä-Herttuala is one of the world’s leading scientists on gene therapy for glioma and cardiovascular disease, and he also leads the National Virus Vector Laboratory in Finland. His Molecular Medicine research group has been developing gene therapy for glioma since the 1990s, the efficacy of which has been demonstrated in pioneering clinical trials. Cell lines and tumour models for glioma developed on the basis of patient samples can be used, for example, to discover novel diagnostic biomarkers and new targets for treatment. These models have also been used to test various forms of oncolytic virus therapy. Also participating from the Molecular Medicine group is Adjunct Professor Minna Niittykoski.

Led by Professor Greco, the Finnish Hub for Development and Validation of Integrated Approaches, FHAIVE, focuses on the development and validation of alternative, non-animal approaches, i.e., IATA. The research group combines artificial intelligence and computer modelling, as well as bioinformatics and multiomics analyses with laboratory experiments.

For further information, please contact:
Professor Seppo Ylä-Herttuala, University of Eastern Finland, A. I. Virtanen Institute
Professor Vincenzo Cerullo, University of Helsinki, Division of Pharmaceutical Biosciences
Professor Dario Greco, Tampere University, Faculty of Medicine and Health Technology