NCMM Tuesday Seminar: Even Rustad and Rune Enger
NCMM Associate Investigators, Dr. Even Rustad, Akershus University Hospital and Oslo University Hospital, and Rune Enger, Institute of Basic Medical Sciences, University of Oslo, will present their research as part of the NCMM Tuesday seminar series.
Even Rustad: Bringing experimental immunotherapies to cancer patients
Immunotherapy has transformed how cancer is treated; however, for most patients with advanced disease there are still no curative treatment options. During the last two decades, the experimental immunotherapy group at Radiumhospitalet, led by Prof. Johanna Olweus, has developed a new class of immune cell therapy. This approach leverages donor-derived T-cell receptors (TCRs) targeting cancer antigens (e.g., neoantigens and lineage markers) that are transferred to the patients’ own T-cells as a form of gene therapy. Two such TCRs recognizing leukemia antigens have undergone pre-clinical testing and are ready for first-in-human studies. Additional candidate TCRs are currently undergoing pre-clinical testing. I recently joined the group to head clinical development and translational studies. In this talk, I will give a brief introduction to the principle of TCR therapy, highlighting the two TCRs currently in clinical development.
Rune Enger: Roles of astrocytic Ca2+ signals in epilepsy
Epilepsy is one of the most common neurological disorders – estimated to affect at least 65 million worldwide. Most epilepsy research has so far focused on how to dampen neuronal discharges and to demonstrate how neuronal pathology or perturbed neuronal network function cause seizures. Epileptic tissue is, however, also characterized by pathological changes affecting astrocytes, the main glial cell of gray matter. Astrocytes across epilepsy entities typically exhibit various degrees of reactive astrogliosis, i.e. astrocytes that have undergone both reactive morphological and molecular changes, but the understanding of the consequences of these pathological processes remains rudimentary. In physiology, it is now widely accepted that in physiology astrocytes are key controllers of the composition of the extracellular fluids, and may directly interact with neurons by releasing gliotransmitters. A central tenet is that astrocytic intracellular Ca2+ signals promote release of such signaling substances, either through synaptic or non-synaptic mechanisms. It is currently unknown how reactive gliosis in epilepsy affects astrocytic Ca2+ signalling and the pathophysiology of epilepsy at large. One long-term goal of our research is to shed light on roles for astrocytes in seizure activity and in the development of epilepsy at large with the aim of identifying novel therapeutic targets.