Research Overview

Lymphoid malignancies are a heterogeneous group of cancers that differ significantly in occurrence, risk factors, cell of origin, and clinical behavior. We are particularly interested in studying diffuse large B-cell lymphoma (DLBCL), which is the most common lymphoid malignancy with a median age of >60 years at the time of diagnosis, and Hodgkin lymphoma (HL), which is, in turn, the most common cancer during the adolescence. Both lymphomas are potentially curable diseases. However, current treatments, which are mainly based on chemo- and immunochemotherapy may be unsuccessful and/or difficult to tolerate, and about one third of the patients do not respond or relapse and die from lymphoma. Such patients could benefit from alternative targeted therapies if their clinical outcome was more accurately predicted at the time of the diagnosis. Therefore, identification of prognostic factors that could recognize the patients with high biological risk of relapse, is a priority.

Our major objective is to advance lymphoma therapies towards precision medicine. We conduct risk-adapted and biomarker-driven lymphoma trials in combination with sequential sampling and unique genome-wide and functional approaches to identify molecular events associated with clinically meaningful outcome measurements. We expect to translate our findings into clinical benefits of lymphoma patients, such as improved molecular diagnostics and risk prediction, and molecularly tailored treatment options.

Ma­jor find­ings and ongo­ing work

Our gene expression profiling studies have shown that it is possible to molecularly 1) identify the patients who do or do not respond to immunochemotherapy, as well as 2) to separate the patients who are cured or benefit from the therapy for longer periods. Here our most interesting discovery has been that gene expression in the tumor microenvironment influences clinical outcome. In subsequent studies, we have analyzed how the presence and activity of host cells, including macrophages, mast cells, T-lymphocytes and vascular endothelial cells in the lymphoma tissue prior to therapy contribute to outcome. According to our recent data, macrophages and T-lymphocytes have treatment dependent prognostic impact on survival of lymphoma patients.