Professional Education

  • Staatsexamen, Universitat Witten/Herdecke (2014)
  • Doctor of Medicine, University of Cologne, Functional Cancer Genomics (2018)

Stanford Advisors

All Publications

  • Putting the pedal to the metal: axi-cel for LBCL. Blood Balke-Want, H. 2023; 141 (19): 2285-2286

    View details for DOI 10.1182/blood.2023020188

    View details for PubMedID 37166931

  • Impact of timing and precision of histopathological diagnosis on outcomes of patients with Burkitt Lymphoma and High-Grade B-Cell Lymphoma. European journal of haematology Graef, C. M., Godel, P., Falderbaum, P., Balke-Want, H., Simon, F., Sieg, N., Naendrup, J., Neumann, M. A., Gillessen, S., Brockelmann, P. J., Eichenauer, D. A., Borchmann, P., von Tresckow, B., Heger, J. 1800


    BACKGROUND: Burkitt Lymphoma (BL) and Diffuse Large B-Cell Lymphoma (DLBCL) are aggressive B-Cell Non-Hodgkin Lymphomas (B-NHL) with a generally favorable prognosis after immunochemotherapy. The outcome of BL is superior to DLBCL. In 2016, a distinct group of lymphomas displaying characteristics of both BL and DLBCL (High Grad B-Cell Lymphoma, HGBL) was introduced into the WHO classification. Histopathological discrimination of BL, DLBCL and HGBL may be challenging. Data on the frequency of histopathological difficulties resulting in revision of the final diagnosis of BL/DLBCL/HGBL and its impact on the prognosis is limited.METHODS: We assessed histopathological features and clinical outcomes of 66 patients with suspected diagnosis of BL at the reporting institution between 2010-2020.RESULTS: The median age was 51 years (range 19-82) and final histopathological diagnosis revealed BL (n=40), DLBCL (n=12) or HGBL (n=14). Patients with DLBCL and HGBL were either treated with DLBCL-directed (83.3% and 35.7%) or BL-directed (16.7% and 64.3%) protocols. Patients in whom diagnosis was revised from DLBCL to BL after initiation of DLBCL-directed treatment had a significantly inferior progression-free survival (PFS) than patients initially diagnosed with BL (p=0.045), thus resembling rather the prognosis of DLBCL/HGBL. There was no difference between patients with DLBCL and HGBL, respectively, regarding PFS and OS (p=0.38 and p=0.27).CONCLUSION: These results suggest that timely and precise histopathological diagnosis as well as reference histopathological review of the underlying lymphoma is critical to determine up-front treatment strategies. Consequently, selection of more aggressive treatment protocols in case of difficulties with discrimination between DLBCL/HGBL/BL may be a reasonable approach.

    View details for DOI 10.1111/ejh.13747

    View details for PubMedID 35090068

  • Impact of Timing and Precision of Histopathological Diagnosis on Outcomes of Patients with Burkitt and High-Grade B-Cell Lymphoma Heger, J., Graef, C., Falderbaum, P., Goedel, P., Balke-Want, H., Simon, F., Sieg, N., Naendrup, J., Neumann, M., Gillessen, S., Broeckelmann, P. J., Eichenauer, D. A., Borchmann, P., Von Tresckow, B. AMER SOC HEMATOLOGY. 2021
  • Tisagenlecleucel in Adult Relapsed or Refractory Diffuse Large B-Cell Lymphoma NEW ENGLAND JOURNAL OF MEDICINE Schuster, S. J., Bishop, M. R., Tam, C. S., Waller, E. K., Borchmann, P., McGuirk, J. P., Jaeger, U., Jaglowski, S., Andreadis, C., Westin, J. R., Fleury, I., Bachanova, V., Foley, S., Ho, P., Mielke, S., Magenau, J. M., Holte, H., Pantano, S., Pacaud, L. B., Awasthi, R., Chu, J., Anak, O., Salles, G., Maziarz, R. T., JULIET Investigators 2019; 380 (1): 45–56


    Patients with diffuse large B-cell lymphoma that is refractory to primary and second-line therapies or that has relapsed after stem-cell transplantation have a poor prognosis. The chimeric antigen receptor (CAR) T-cell therapy tisagenlecleucel targets and eliminates CD19-expressing B cells and showed efficacy against B-cell lymphomas in a single-center, phase 2a study.We conducted an international, phase 2, pivotal study of centrally manufactured tisagenlecleucel involving adult patients with relapsed or refractory diffuse large B-cell lymphoma who were ineligible for or had disease progression after autologous hematopoietic stem-cell transplantation. The primary end point was the best overall response rate (i.e., the percentage of patients who had a complete or partial response), as judged by an independent review committee.A total of 93 patients received an infusion and were included in the evaluation of efficacy. The median time from infusion to data cutoff was 14 months (range, 0.1 to 26). The best overall response rate was 52% (95% confidence interval, 41 to 62); 40% of the patients had complete responses, and 12% had partial responses. Response rates were consistent across prognostic subgroups. At 12 months after the initial response, the rate of relapse-free survival was estimated to be 65% (79% among patients with a complete response). The most common grade 3 or 4 adverse events of special interest included cytokine release syndrome (22%), neurologic events (12%), cytopenias lasting more than 28 days (32%), infections (20%), and febrile neutropenia (14%). Three patients died from disease progression within 30 days after infusion. No deaths were attributed to tisagenlecleucel, cytokine release syndrome, or cerebral edema. No differences between response groups in tumor expression of CD19 or immune checkpoint-related proteins were found.In this international study of CAR T-cell therapy in relapsed or refractory diffuse large B-cell lymphoma in adults, high rates of durable responses were produced with the use of tisagenlecleucel. (Funded by Novartis; JULIET number, NCT02445248 .).

    View details for DOI 10.1056/NEJMoa1804980

    View details for Web of Science ID 000454731200008

    View details for PubMedID 30501490

  • Systematic Kinase Inhibitor Profiling Identifies CDK9 as a Synthetic Lethal Target in NUT Midline Carcinoma CELL REPORTS Braegelmann, J., Dammert, M. A., Dietlein, F., Heuckmann, J. M., Choidas, A., Boehm, S., Richters, A., Basu, D., Tischler, V., Lorenz, C., Habenberger, P., Fang, Z., Ortiz-Cuaran, S., Leenders, F., Eickhoff, J., Koch, U., Getlik, M., Termathe, M., Sallouh, M., Greff, Z., Varga, Z., Balke-Want, H., French, C. A., Peifer, M., Reinhardt, H., Orfi, L., Keri, G., Ansen, S., Heukamp, L. C., Buettner, R., Rauh, D., Klebl, B. M., Thomas, R. K., Sos, M. L. 2017; 20 (12): 2833–45


    Kinase inhibitors represent the backbone of targeted cancer therapy, yet only a limited number of oncogenic drivers are directly druggable. By interrogating the activity of 1,505 kinase inhibitors, we found that BRD4-NUT-rearranged NUT midline carcinoma (NMC) cells are specifically killed by CDK9 inhibition (CDK9i) and depend on CDK9 and Cyclin-T1 expression. We show that CDK9i leads to robust induction of apoptosis and of markers of DNA damage response in NMC cells. While both CDK9i and bromodomain inhibition over time result in reduced Myc protein expression, only bromodomain inhibition induces cell differentiation and a p21-induced cell-cycle arrest in these cells. Finally, RNA-seq and ChIP-based analyses reveal a BRD4-NUT-specific CDK9i-induced perturbation of transcriptional elongation. Thus, our data provide a mechanistic basis for the genotype-dependent vulnerability of NMC cells to CDK9i that may be of relevance for the development of targeted therapies for NMC patients.

    View details for DOI 10.1016/j.celrep.2017.08.082

    View details for Web of Science ID 000411127400010

    View details for PubMedID 28930680

    View details for PubMedCentralID PMC5622049

  • Identification and Further Development of Potent TBK1 Inhibitors ACS CHEMICAL BIOLOGY Richters, A., Basu, D., Engel, J., Ercanoglu, M. S., Balke-Want, H., Tesch, R., Thomas, R. K., Rauh, D. 2015; 10 (1): 289–98


    The cytosolic Ser/Thr kinase TBK1 was discovered to be an essential element in the mediation of signals that lead to tumor migration and progression. These findings meet the need for the identification of novel tool compounds and potential therapeutics to gain deeper insights into TBK1 related signaling and its relevance in tumor progression. Herein, we undertake the activity-based screening for unique inhibitors of TBK1 and their subsequent optimization. Initial screening approaches identified a selection of TBK1 inhibitors that were optimized using methods of medicinal chemistry. Variations of the structural characteristics of a representative 2,4,6-substituted pyrimidine scaffold resulted in improved potency. Prospective use as tool compounds or basic contributions to drug design approaches are anticipated for our improved small molecules.

    View details for DOI 10.1021/cb500908d

    View details for Web of Science ID 000348332100029

    View details for PubMedID 25540906

  • A framework for identification of actionable cancer genome dependencies in small cell lung cancer PROCEEDINGS OF THE NATIONAL ACADEMY OF SCIENCES OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA Sos, M. L., Dietlein, F., Peifer, M., Schoettle, J., Balke-Want, H., Mueller, C., Koker, M., Richters, A., Heynck, S., Malchers, F., Heuckmann, J. M., Seidel, D., Eyers, P. A., Ullrich, R. T., Antonchick, A. P., Vintonyak, V. V., Schneider, P. M., Ninomiya, T., Waldmann, H., Buettner, R., Rauh, D., Heukamp, L. C., Thomas, R. K. 2012; 109 (42): 17034–39


    Small cell lung cancer (SCLC) accounts for about 15% of all lung cancers. The prognosis of SCLC patients is devastating and no biologically targeted therapeutics are active in this tumor type. To develop a framework for development of specific SCLC-targeted drugs we conducted a combined genomic and pharmacological vulnerability screen in SCLC cell lines. We show that SCLC cell lines capture the genomic landscape of primary SCLC tumors and provide genetic predictors for activity of clinically relevant inhibitors by screening 267 compounds across 44 of these cell lines. We show Aurora kinase inhibitors are effective in SCLC cell lines bearing MYC amplification, which occur in 3-7% of SCLC patients. In MYC-amplified SCLC cells Aurora kinase inhibition associates with G2/M-arrest, inactivation of PI3-kinase (PI3K) signaling, and induction of apoptosis. Aurora dependency in SCLC primarily involved Aurora B, required its kinase activity, and was independent of depletion of cytoplasmic levels of MYC. Our study suggests that a fraction of SCLC patients may benefit from therapeutic inhibition of Aurora B. Thus, thorough chemical and genomic exploration of SCLC cell lines may provide starting points for further development of rational targeted therapeutic intervention in this deadly tumor type.

    View details for DOI 10.1073/pnas.1207310109

    View details for Web of Science ID 000310515800060

    View details for PubMedID 23035247

    View details for PubMedCentralID PMC3479457

  • Differential Protein Stability and ALK Inhibitor Sensitivity of EML4-ALK Fusion Variants CLINICAL CANCER RESEARCH Heuckmann, J. M., Balke-Want, H., Malchers, F., Peifer, M., Sos, M. L., Koker, M., Meder, L., Lovly, C. M., Heukamp, L. C., Pao, W., Kueppers, R., Thomas, R. K. 2012; 18 (17): 4682–90


    ALK rearrangement-positive lung cancers can be effectively treated with ALK inhibitors. However, the magnitude and duration of response is heterogeneous. In addition, acquired resistance limits the efficacy of ALK inhibitors, with most upfront resistance mechanisms being unknown.By making use of the Ba/F3 cell line model, we analyzed the cytotoxic efficacy of ALK kinase inhibitors as a function of different EML4-ALK fusion variants v1, v2, v3a, and v3b as well as of three artificially designed EML4-ALK deletion constructs and the ALK fusion genes KIF5b-ALK and NPM1-ALK. In addition, the intracellular localization, the sensitivity to HSP90 inhibition and the protein stability of ALK fusion proteins were studied.Different ALK fusion genes and EML4-ALK variants exhibited differential sensitivity to the structurally diverse ALK kinase inhibitors crizotinib and TAE684. In addition, differential sensitivity correlated with differences in protein stability in EML4-ALK-expressing cells. Furthermore, the sensitivity to HSP90 inhibition also varied depending on the ALK fusion partner but differed from ALK inhibitor sensitivity patterns. Finally, combining inhibitors of ALK and HSP90 resulted in synergistic cytotoxicity.Our results might explain some of the heterogeneous responses of ALK-positive tumors to ALK kinase inhibition observed in the clinic. Thus, targeted therapy of ALK-positive lung cancer should take into account the precise ALK genotype. Furthermore, combining ALK and HSP90 inhibitors might enhance tumor shrinkage in EML4-ALK-driven tumors.

    View details for DOI 10.1158/1078-0432.CCR-11-3260

    View details for Web of Science ID 000309964500023

    View details for PubMedID 22912387

  • ALK Mutations Conferring Differential Resistance to Structurally Diverse ALK Inhibitors CLINICAL CANCER RESEARCH Heuckmann, J. M., Hoelzel, M., Sos, M. L., Heynck, S., Balke-Want, H., Koker, M., Peifer, M., Weiss, J., Lovly, C. M., Gruetter, C., Rauh, D., Pao, W., Thomas, R. K. 2011; 17 (23): 7394–7401


    EML4-ALK fusions define a subset of lung cancers that can be effectively treated with anaplastic lymphoma kinase (ALK) inhibitors. Unfortunately, the duration of response is heterogeneous and acquired resistance limits their ultimate efficacy. Thus, a better understanding of resistance mechanisms will help to enhance tumor control in EML4-ALK-positive tumors.By applying orthogonal functional mutagenesis screening approaches, we screened for mutations inducing resistance to the aminopyridine PF02341066 (crizotinib) and/or the diaminopyrimidine TAE684.Here, we show that the resistance mutation, L1196M, as well as other crizotinib resistance mutations (F1174L and G1269S), are highly sensitive to the structurally unrelated ALK inhibitor TAE684. In addition, we identified two novel EML4-ALK resistance mutations (L1198P and D1203N), which unlike previously reported mutations, induced resistance to both ALK inhibitors. An independent resistance screen in ALK-mutant neuroblastoma cells yielded the same L1198P resistance mutation but defined two additional mutations conferring resistance to TAE684 but not to PF02341066.Our results show that different ALK resistance mutations as well as different ALK inhibitors impact the therapeutic efficacy in the setting of EML4-ALK fusions and ALK mutations.

    View details for DOI 10.1158/1078-0432.CCR-11-1648

    View details for Web of Science ID 000298133600021

    View details for PubMedID 21948233

    View details for PubMedCentralID PMC3382103

  • Frequent and Focal FGFR1 Amplification Associates with Therapeutically Tractable FGFR1 Dependency in Squamous Cell Lung Cancer SCIENCE TRANSLATIONAL MEDICINE Weiss, J., Sos, M. L., Seidel, D., Peifer, M., Zander, T., Heuckmann, J. M., Ullrich, R. T., Menon, R., Maier, S., Soltermann, A., Moch, H., Wagener, P., Fischer, F., Heynck, S., Koker, M., Schoettle, J., Leenders, F., Gabler, F., Dabow, I., Querings, S., Heukamp, L. C., Balke-Want, H., Ansen, S., Rauh, D., Baessmann, I., Altmueller, J., Wainer, Z., Conron, M., Wright, G., Russell, P., Solomon, B., Brambilla, E., Brambilla, C., Lorimier, P., Sollberg, S., Brustugun, O., Engel-Riedel, W., Ludwig, C., Petersen, I., Saenger, J., Clement, J., Groen, H., Timens, W., Sietsma, H., Thunnissen, E., Smit, E., Heideman, D., Cappuzzo, F., Ligorio, C., Damiani, S., Hallek, M., Beroukhim, R., Pao, W., Klebl, B., Baumann, M., Buettner, R., Ernestus, K., Stoelben, E., Wolf, J., Nuernberg, P., Perner, S., Thomas, R. K. 2010; 2 (62): 62ra93


    Lung cancer remains one of the leading causes of cancer-related death in developed countries. Although lung adenocarcinomas with EGFR mutations or EML4-ALK fusions respond to treatment by epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) and anaplastic lymphoma kinase (ALK) inhibition, respectively, squamous cell lung cancer currently lacks therapeutically exploitable genetic alterations. We conducted a systematic search in a set of 232 lung cancer specimens for genetic alterations that were therapeutically amenable and then performed high-resolution gene copy number analyses. We identified frequent and focal fibroblast growth factor receptor 1 (FGFR1) amplification in squamous cell lung cancer (n = 155), but not in other lung cancer subtypes, and, by fluorescence in situ hybridization, confirmed the presence of FGFR1 amplifications in an independent cohort of squamous cell lung cancer samples (22% of cases). Using cell-based screening with the FGFR inhibitor PD173074 in a large (n = 83) panel of lung cancer cell lines, we demonstrated that this compound inhibited growth and induced apoptosis specifically in those lung cancer cells carrying amplified FGFR1. We validated the FGFR1 dependence of FGFR1-amplified cell lines by FGFR1 knockdown and by ectopic expression of an FGFR1-resistant allele (FGFR1(V561M)), which rescued FGFR1-amplified cells from PD173074-mediated cytotoxicity. Finally, we showed that inhibition of FGFR1 with a small molecule led to significant tumor shrinkage in vivo. Thus, focal FGFR1 amplification is common in squamous cell lung cancer and associated with tumor growth and survival, suggesting that FGFR inhibitors may be a viable therapeutic option in this cohort of patients.

    View details for DOI 10.1126/scitranslmed.3001451

    View details for Web of Science ID 000288444300004

    View details for PubMedID 21160078

    View details for PubMedCentralID PMC3990281