Cell-based immunotherapies

Immunotherapy is the treatment of a disease by inducing, enhancing, or alternatively suppressing an immune response. Traditional immunotherapy utilizes pharmaceutical small molecules or biological medicines, such as monoclonal antibodies, but the novel form of immunotherapies is based on living immune cells i.e. cellular medicines.

​Cells that form the immune system have a natural ability to eliminate infectious agents and transformed cells. Thus they can be used to treat infections or cancer. Also, immune cells maintain the immune tolerance to avoid excessive immune reactions, which could be utilized when immunosuppressive treatment is needed, e.g., in the treatment of transplantation-related complications, autoimmunity, or inflammation.

Potential cell types for immunotherapy include T cells, dendritic cells (DC), and NK cells, and regulatory cell subsets, for instance, regulatory T cells (Treg) for suppression immunotherapies. Often these cells need activation, expansion on cell number, and even genetic engineering to meet the needed level of clinical efficacy.

We are currently exploring the best methods and practices to produce cell-based immunotherapeutics. The specific aims are:

  1. to investigate how different blood-derived starting materials affect the manufacturing success of immune cell products.
  2. to determine the best practices for lentiviral ex vivo gene-modification of T cells.
  3. to find optimal T-cell expansion conditions that support the balance between cell number and effective cell phenotypes.
Annu Luostarinen

Specialist, MSc (PhD student)

Anita Laitinen

Production Manager, PhD

Selected references:

Kaartinen T, Luostarinen A, Maliniemi P, Keto J, Arvas M, Belt H, Koponen J, Loskog A, Mustjoki S, Porkka K, Yla-Herttuala S and Korhonen M. Low interleukin-2 concentration favors generation of early memory T cells over effector phenotypes during chimeric antigen receptor T-cell expansion. Cytotherapy 2017;19(6):689-702. PMID:28645733

Kaartinen T, Harjunpää H, Partanen J, Tiittanen M. In vitro Treg expansion favors the full-length splicing isoform of CTLA4. Immunotherapy 2016;8(5):541-53. PMID:27140408

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