Prof. Dr. Boyman Onur

Main Field(s) of Research, Abstract
We are interested in approaches harnessing the stimulation of the immune system against cancer and chronic viral infections, or dampening harmful immune responses such as seen in inflammatory and autoimmune diseases. One of our research focuses deals with the modification of cytokines for improved immunotherapy. Cytokine immunotherapy, in particular using the cytokine interleukin (IL)-2, has been successfully used in patients with metastatic melanoma and other metastatic cancer. The anti-tumor effect of IL-2 immunotherapy might be improved by the administration of higher doses of IL-2, however, this idea is hampered by the development of dose-dependent IL-2-induced toxicity. Recently, we have addressed this issue in an established mouse model of melanoma by using so-called IL-2/mAb complexes, consisting of IL-2 plus a specific anti-IL-2 monoclonal antibody (mAb). Notably, IL-2/mAb complexes showed a very potent anti-tumor effect in vivo while IL-2-related adverse effects were absent or significantly reduced compared to traditional high-dose IL-2 treatment. As we were able to form such complexes also using human IL-2 and anti-human IL-2 mAb, the aim is to advance these findings into clinical trials. Alternatively, the use of a different group of IL-2/mAb complexes is able to mediate the selective expansion of CD4+ T regulatory cells, a situation, which might be beneficial for the treatment of chronic inflammatory or autoimmune diseases. Interestingly, cytokine/mAb complexes can also be generated using other cytokines, including IL-4, IL-6, IL-7, and IL-15, thus opening the possibility of stimulating various leukocyte subsets in a selective and potent manner.

Main Fields of Research, Keywords
Human and mouse immunology, immunotherapy, cancer, infection, autoimmune disease, inflammatory disorder, T lymphocyte, natural killer cell, cytokine, interleukin-2

Special Techniques and Equipment
Mouse models for cancer, infection, inflammation, and autoimmune disease; standard immunological techniques and assays, including multicolor flow cytometry

Education and Training
We have opportunities for PhD and MD students (incl. medical dissertations), and postdoctoral fellows.