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Immunological targeting of cancer

Aims of the project

CAR T cells provide a powerful tool for targeting cancer. The patient’s own white cells are modified with a gene for Chimeric Antigen Receptor (CAR, Figure 1), equipping the body’s own immune system to combat cancer. The extracellular part of the receptor binds cancer cells, while the intracellular part activates the T cell, enabling the cell to effectively destroy tumor cells. Very promising early-phase results have been published in the scientific literature. The aim of these projects is to build a production and research platform for CAR T cells.


1. Building a technical platform that allows production of CAR T-cells equipped with a 3rd generation CD19-directed CAR gene (kindly provided by prof Gianpietro Dotti, University of North Carolina, NC). Our aim is to be able to treat leukemia and lymphoma patients carrying CD19+ disease.
2. Develop novel methods for transient expression of the CAR gene on T cells, allowing for safer testing of novel CARs in patients.
3. Combine CARs with other immunomodulatory approaches directed at enhancing the anti-cancer potency of CAR T-cells. This will allow the treatment of solid cancers that have been more resistant to CAR T-cell therapy.

Research team


Matti Korhonen,       
MD, docent (PI)

Annu Luostarinen
MSci, research scientist

Jan Koski,
MSci, research scientist​

Leena Penna,
MSci, research scientist​

Tiina Wahlfors, PhD, docent

Pilvi Maliniemi, PhD, post-doctoral scientist

Tanja Kaartinen,
PhD, research scientist

Sirkka Hirschovits-Gerz,
laboratory technician













To accomplish these aims, the FRCBS is collaborating with research groups form the University of Helsinki (prof. Kimmo Porkka, prof Satu Mustjoki), University of Eastern Finland (prof Seppo Ylä-Herttuala), FinVector Vision Therapies Ltd., and University of Uppsala, Sweden (prof Angelica Loskog)