About us Department of Tumor ImmunologyThe immune system has the tremendous task to eliminate pathogens and eradicate arising tumors, while preventing auto-reactive responses that are harmful to the host. In keeping with balancing this dual task, a complex interplay between immune cells exists and many stimulatory and inhibitory circuits are in place. Deregulation of this intricate balance is directly associated with human diseases, ranging from inflammatory and autoimmune disorders to infection and cancer.
The mission of the Department of Tumor Immunology is to provide a comprehensive scientific and educational research program in the field of cellular and molecular immunology and translational research aimed at clinical application in cancer. To this end molecular and cell biological research is being carried out on receptors at the surface of so-called dendritic cells (DC). These are cells with long fimbriae which make tumor cells eminently 'recognisable' to the immune system. Clinical research in which cancer patients are vaccinated with these dendritic cells is also being conducted.
EducationThe main Bachelor's blocks of these curricula are: Immunology and Oncology. Furthermore, the department coordinates the optional block for curriculum Medicine Gene and Immunotherapy and heavily participate in newly developed optional block of Biomedical Sciences: Cancer Research.
International Master's courses have been developed for Biomedical Sciences and Molecular Mechanisms of Disease.
The department plays an important role in the international Master's program Molecular Mechanisms of Disease (MMD), since Tumor Immunology is one of the core themes of the program. Faculty members of the department coordinate the main courses: Excellence in Communication and Core Fundamental Theme a (Immune Regulation). Regularly, members of our department organize Master's classes within the MMD education.
Within the Faculty of Science our department participates in the Master's curriculum of Molecular Life Sciences in the blocks Understanding of Molecular basis of the disease, Cellular communication, and Cause and effect in tissue damage and in the Master curriculum of Biology/Medical Biology in the blocks Immunology, and Molecular and Translational Oncology.
In addition, the members of the department are active in the Honours program of the Medical Faculty, in the activities organized by research institutes RIMLS and Research Institute for Oncology, as well as in Capita Selecta series.
PatientsDendritic Cell (DC) therapy represents a promising immunotherapeutic approach for the treatment of cancer. The beauty of DC therapy is that it exploits the body's own immune system to fight cancer. Since 1997 we perform clinical trials to test the potency of this approach. For each patient a specialized vaccine is prepared from immune cells isolated from the blood. In specialized cleanrooms, a personalized DC vaccine is prepared after which patients are vaccinated.
So far, our clinical trials are mainly focused on melanoma, a cancer of the pigmented cells of the skin. We have treated more than 350 patients until now and observed that DC vaccination is well tolerated with minimal side effects.
> more information in Dutch at www.afweertegenkanker.nl