Doctoral fellow – Department of Dermatology, University Hospital Ghent, University of Ghent ; Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences
Principal investigator: prof. Lieve Brochez (MD,PhD)
The incidence of melanoma in Belgium is assessed to be around 3000 patients each year, predominantly occurring in women. The vast majority of patients (90%) are initially diagnosed in an early stage of the disease, permitting resection of the cutaneous tumors. However, patients with lymph node or distant metastases are at high risk for recurrence (90% within the first 5 years after surgery) and subsequent death from melanoma.
Tumors are capable of developing escape mechanisms to hijack the antitumor immune response. Our research aims are focused on gaining insights in tumor immune escape mechanisms and the host systemic immune response, with special interest to IDO1, the PD-1/PD-L1 axis, CTLA-4 and other checkpoint molecules. In addition to analyzing the expression pattern of these immunosuppressive markers in the blood of early stage melanoma patients, we also aim to unravel the immune profile of metastatic melanoma patients under systemic treatments. In this way, our research can identify new prognostic and/or predictive systemic biomarkers.
I developed a true interest in tumor immunology during my master Biomedical Sciences Immunology & Infection at Ghent University. After being graduated in 2016, I started a PhD project at the Dermatology Research Unit involving systemic immune responses in melanoma patients. Melanoma is considered one of the most immunogenic malignancies and major advances in our understanding of tumor escape mechanisms have been made over the past decade. Although immunotherapy have caused remarkable success in the treatment of melanoma, there is still a considerable amount of patients not benefiting from (long-time) response. These resistance mechanisms are intriguing, and I hope my research project will render insights in the peripheral immune responses underlying the clinical (non-) response to immunotherapy.
- 'Immune Monitoring in Melanoma and Urothelial Cancer Patients Treated with Anti-PD-1 Immunotherapy and SBRT Discloses Tumor Specific Immune Signatures.' Cancers (Basel). 2021 May 27;13(11):2630. doi: 10.3390/cancers13112630. (PMID: 34071888)
- 'IDO Expression in Cancer: Different Compartment, Different Functionality?' Front Immunol. 2020 Sep 24;11:531491. doi: 10.3389/fimmu.2020.531491. (PMID: 33072086; PMCID: PMC7541907)
- ‘Phase 2 Trial of Nivolumab Combined With Stereotactic Body Radiation Therapy in Patients With Metastatic or Locally Advanced Inoperable Melanoma.’ International Journal of Radiation Oncology – Biology – Physics, 2019. (PMID: 30951807)
- ‘Randomized Phase 1 Trial of Pembrolizumab with Sequential Versus Concomitant Stereotactic Body Radiotherapy in Metastatic Urothelial Carcinoma.’ European Urology, 2019. (PMID: 30665814)
- ‘Challenging PD-L1 expressing cytotoxic T cells as a predictor for response to immunotherapy in melanoma.’ Nature Communications, 2018. (PMID: 30050132)
- ‘Peritumoral endothelial indoleamine 2, 3-dioxygenase expression is an early independent marker of disease relapse in colorectal cancer and is influenced by DNA mismatch repair profile.’ Oncotarget, 2018. (PMID: 29861865)
- ‘Phase 1 Dose Escalation Trial of Ipilimumab and Stereotactic Body Radiation Therapy in Metastatic Melanoma.’ International Journal of Radiation Oncology – Biology – Physics, 2018. (PMID: 29485070)
- ‘A phase I/II trial of fixed-dose stereotactic body radiotherapy with sequential or concurrent pembrolizumab in metastatic urothelial carcinoma: evaluation of safety and clinical and immunologic response.’ Journal of Translational Medicine, 2017. (PMID: 28662677)