Fellowship, University Hospital, LMU Munich, Hematology and Oncology Fellowship
Staatsexamen, Medical Education: University of Ulm, Germany (2013)
Doctor of Medicine, Universitat Ulm (2014)
Ronald Levy, Postdoctoral Faculty Sponsor
Ronald Levy, Postdoctoral Research Mentor
Activating Immune Effectors and Dampening Immune Suppressors Generates Successful Therapeutic Cancer Vaccination in Patients with Lymphoma
AMER SOC HEMATOLOGY. 2022: 6450-6451
View details for DOI 10.1182/blood-2022-167469
View details for Web of Science ID 000893223206208
Prevalence of Acquired N-Glycosylation Sites at the Single Cell Level in Follicular Lymphoma
AMER SOC HEMATOLOGY. 2022: 9211-9212
View details for DOI 10.1182/blood-2022-164763
View details for Web of Science ID 000893230302097
PARP14 is a novel target in STAT6 mutant follicular lymphoma.
The variable clinical course of follicular lymphoma (FL) is determined by the molecular heterogeneity of tumor cells and complex interactions within the tumor microenvironment (TME). IL-4 producing follicular helper T cells (TFH) are critical components of the FL TME. Binding of IL-4 to IL-4R on FL cells activates JAK/STAT signaling. We identified STAT6 mutations (STAT6MUT) in 13% of FL (N=33/258), all clustered within the DNA binding domain. Gene expression data and immunohistochemistry showed upregulation of IL-4/STAT6 target genes in STAT6MUT FL, including CCL17, CCL22, and FCER2 (CD23). Functionally, STAT6MUT was gain-of-function by serial replating phenotype in pre-B CFU assays. Expression of STAT6MUT enhanced IL-4 induced FCER2/CD23, CCL17 and CCL22 expression and was associated with nuclear accumulation of pSTAT6. RNA sequencing identified PARP14 -a transcriptional switch and co-activator of STAT6- among the top differentially upregulated genes in IL-4 stimulated STAT6MUT lymphoma cells and in STAT6MUT primary FL cells. Quantitative chromatin immunoprecipitation (qChIP) demonstrated binding of STAT6MUT but not STAT6WT to the PARP14 promotor. Reporter assays showed increased IL-4 induced transactivation activity of STAT6MUT at the PARP14 promotor, suggesting a self-reinforcing regulatory circuit. Knock-down of PARP14 or PARP-inhibition abrogated the STAT6MUT gain-of-function phenotype. Thus, our results identify PARP14 as a novel therapeutic target in STAT6MUT FL.
View details for DOI 10.1038/s41375-022-01641-x
View details for PubMedID 35851155
The molecular ontogeny of follicular lymphoma: gene mutations succeeding the BCL2 translocation define common precursor cells
BRITISH JOURNAL OF HAEMATOLOGY
Relapsed follicular lymphoma (FL) can arise from common progenitor cells (CPCs). Conceptually, CPC-defining mutations are somatic alterations shared by the initial and relapsed tumours, mostly B-cell leukaemia/lymphoma 2 (BCL2)/immunoglobulin heavy locus (IGH) translocations and other recurrent gene mutations. Through complementary approaches for highly sensitive mutation detection, we do not find CPC-defining mutations in highly purified BCL2/IGH-negative haematopoietic progenitor cells in clinical remission samples from three patients with relapsed FL. Instead, we find cells harbouring the same BCL2/IGH translocation but lacking CREB binding protein (CREBBP), lysine methyltransferase 2D (KMT2D) and other recurrent gene mutations. Thus, (i) the BCL2/IGH translocation can precede CPC-defining mutations in human FL, and (ii) BCL2/IGH-translocated cells can persist in clinical remission.
View details for DOI 10.1111/bjh.17990
View details for Web of Science ID 000735756900001
View details for PubMedID 34967008
In Situ Vaccination Induces Changes in Follicular Lymphoma Tumor Cells That Correlate with Abscopal Clinical Regressions
AMER SOC HEMATOLOGY. 2021
View details for DOI 10.1182/blood-2021-154115
View details for Web of Science ID 000736413901138
Therapeutic and Immunologic Responses Elicited By in Situ Vaccination with CpG, Ibrutinib, and Low-Dose Radiation
AMER SOC HEMATOLOGY. 2021
View details for DOI 10.1182/blood-2021-154017
View details for Web of Science ID 000736413906106
Single Cell Analysis Can Define Distinct Evolution of Tumor Sites in Follicular Lymphoma.
Tumor heterogeneity complicates biomarker development and fosters drug resistance in solid malignancies. In lymphoma, our knowledge of site-to-site heterogeneity and its clinical implications is still limited. Here, we profiled two nodal, synchronously-acquired tumor samples from ten follicular lymphoma patients using single cell RNA, B cell receptor (BCR) and T cell receptor sequencing, and flow cytometry. By following the rapidly mutating tumor immunoglobulin genes, we discovered that BCR subclones were shared between the two tumor sites in some patients, but in many patients the disease had evolved separately with limited tumor cell migration between the sites. Patients exhibiting divergent BCR evolution also exhibited divergent tumor gene expression and cell surface protein profiles. While the overall composition of the tumor microenvironment did not differ significantly between sites, we did detect a specific correlation between site-to-site tumor heterogeneity and T follicular helper (Tfh) cell abundance. We further observed enrichment of particular ligand-receptor pairs between tumor and Tfh cells, including CD40 and CD40LG, and a significant correlation between tumor CD40 expression and Tfh proliferation. Our study may explain discordant responses to systemic therapies, underscores the difficulty of capturing a patient's disease with a single biopsy, and furthers our understanding of tumor-immune networks in follicular lymphoma.
View details for DOI 10.1182/blood.2020009855
View details for PubMedID 33728464
Serial FNA allows direct sampling of malignant and infiltrating immune cells in patients with B-cell lymphoma receiving immunotherapy.
Fine-needle aspiration (FNA) is used to diagnose malignancies, recurrences, and metastases. The procedure is quick and well tolerated and can be facilitated by ultrasound guidance.This article describes the authors' experience in using serial FNA to harvest cellular material during 4 clinical trials of immunotherapy by in situ vaccination in patients with low-grade lymphoma.Two hundred ninety-six FNA samples were collected from 44 patients over a span of approximately 6 weeks for each patient. Samples were sufficient in quantity and quality to be analyzed by flow cytometry and/or single-cell messenger RNA sequencing. FNA samples yielded an average of 12 × 106 cells with a mean cellular viability of 86%. Material collected from the tumor lymph nodes differed significantly in the proportions and phenotypes of cellular populations in comparison with matched peripheral blood samples. A comparison of flow cytometry results obtained by FNA directly from the patient and by FNA performed ex vivo and a dissociation of the same lymph node after surgical excision confirmed that FNA sampling of the patient accurately represented the tumor and the microenvironment. An analysis of the FNA samples from immunotherapy-treated target lymph nodes versus nodes from nontreated tumor sites provided insight into the impact of specific immunotherapy regimens.This is the largest study describing the use of serial FNA sampling to harvest cellular material during immunotherapy clinical trials. The success of this technique opens the door for FNA sampling to expand significantly future investigations of the dynamic effects of investigational agents, be they immunotherapies or targeted therapies.
View details for DOI 10.1002/cncy.22531
View details for PubMedID 34780125
Cathepsin S Alterations Induce a Tumor-Promoting Immune Microenvironment in Follicular Lymphoma
2020; 31 (5): 107522
Tumor cells orchestrate their microenvironment. Here, we provide biochemical, structural, functional, and clinical evidence that Cathepsin S (CTSS) alterations induce a tumor-promoting immune microenvironment in follicular lymphoma (FL). We found CTSS mutations at Y132 in 6% of FL (19/305). Another 13% (37/286) had CTSS amplification, which was associated with higher CTSS expression. CTSS Y132 mutations lead to accelerated autocatalytic conversion from an enzymatically inactive profrom to active CTSS and increased substrate cleavage, including CD74, which regulates major histocompatibility complex class II (MHC class II)-restricted antigen presentation. Lymphoma cells with hyperactive CTSS more efficiently activated antigen-specific CD4+ T cells in vitro. Tumors with hyperactive CTSS showed increased CD4+ T cell infiltration and proinflammatory cytokine perturbation in a mouse model and in human FLs. In mice, this CTSS-induced immune microenvironment promoted tumor growth. Clinically, patients with CTSS-hyperactive FL had better treatment outcomes with standard immunochemotherapies, indicating that these immunosuppressive regimens target both the lymphoma cells and the tumor-promoting immune microenvironment.
View details for DOI 10.1016/j.celrep.2020.107522
View details for Web of Science ID 000531070800001
View details for PubMedID 32330423
Evaluating upfront high-dose consolidation after R-CHOP for follicular lymphoma by clinical and genetic risk models.
2020; 4 (18): 4451–62
High-dose therapy and autologous stem cell transplantation (HDT/ASCT) is an effective salvage treatment for eligible patients with follicular lymphoma (FL) and early progression of disease (POD). Since the introduction of rituximab, HDT/ASCT is no longer recommended in first remission. We here explored whether consolidative HDT/ASCT improved survival in defined subgroups of previously untreated patients. We report survival analyses of 431 patients who received frontline rituximab, cyclophosphamide, doxorubicin, vincristine, and prednisone (R-CHOP) for advanced FL, and were randomized to receive consolidative HDT/ASCT. We performed targeted genotyping of 157 diagnostic biopsies, and calculated genotype-based risk scores. HDT/ASCT improved failure-free survival (FFS; hazard ratio [HR], 0.8, P = .07; as-treated: HR, 0.7, P = .04), but not overall survival (OS; HR, 1.3, P = .27; as-treated: HR, 1.4, P = .13). High-risk cohorts identified by FL International Prognostic Index (FLIPI), and the clinicogenetic risk models m7-FLIPI and POD within 24 months-prognostic index (POD24-PI) comprised 27%, 18%, and 22% of patients. HDT/ASCT did not significantly prolong FFS in high-risk patients as defined by FLIPI (HR, 0.9; P = .56), m7-FLIPI (HR, 0.9; P = .91), and POD24-PI (HR, 0.8; P = .60). Similarly, OS was not significantly improved. Finally, we used a machine-learning approach to predict benefit from HDT/ASCT by genotypes. Patients predicted to benefit from HDT/ASCT had longer FFS with HDT/ASCT (HR, 0.4; P = .03), but OS did not reach statistical significance. Thus, consolidative HDT/ASCT after frontline R-CHOP did not improve OS in unselected FL patients and subgroups selected by genotype-based risk models.
View details for DOI 10.1182/bloodadvances.2020002546
View details for PubMedID 32941649
Intratumoral immunotherapy for early stage solid tumors.
Clinical cancer research : an official journal of the American Association for Cancer Research
The unprecedented benefits of immunotherapy in advanced malignancies have resulted in increased interests in exploiting immune stimulatory agents in earlier stage solid tumors in the neoadjuvant setting. However, systemic delivery of immunotherapies may cause severe immune-related side-effects and hamper the development of combination treatments. Intratumoral delivery of neoadjuvant immunotherapy provides a promising strategy in harnessing the power of immunotherapy while minimizing off-target toxicities. The direct injection of immune stimulating agents into the tumor primes the local tumor-specific immunity to generate a systemic, durable clinical response. Intratumoral immunotherapy is a highly active area of investigation resulting in a plethora of agents, e.g. immune receptor agonists, non-oncolytic and oncolytic viral therapies, being tested in preclinical and clinical settings. Currently, more than 20 neoadjuvant clinical trials exploring distinct intratumoral immune stimulatory agents and their combinations are ongoing. Practical considerations including appropriate timing and optimal local delivery of immune stimulatory agents play an important role in safety and efficacy of this approach. Here we discuss promising approaches in drug delivery technologies and opportunity for combining intratumoral immunotherapy with other cancer treatments and summarize the recent preclinical and clinical evidences that highlighted its promise as a part of routine oncologic care.
View details for DOI 10.1158/1078-0432.CCR-19-3642
View details for PubMedID 32071116
Progression of Disease Within 24 Months in Follicular Lymphoma Is Associated With Reduced Intratumoral Immune Infiltration
JOURNAL OF CLINICAL ONCOLOGY
2019; 37 (34): 3300-3309
Understanding the immunobiology of the 15% to 30% of patients with follicular lymphoma (FL) who experience progression of disease within 24 months (POD24) remains a priority. Solid tumors with low levels of intratumoral immune infiltration have inferior outcomes. It is unknown whether a similar relationship exists between POD24 in FL.Digital gene expression using a custom code set-five immune effector, six immune checkpoint, one macrophage molecules-was applied to a discovery cohort of patients with early- and advanced-stage FL (n = 132). T-cell receptor repertoire analysis, flow cytometry, multispectral immunofluorescence, and next-generation sequencing were performed. The immune infiltration profile was validated in two independent cohorts of patients with advanced-stage FL requiring systemic treatment (n = 138, rituximab plus cyclophosphamide, vincristine, prednisone; n = 45, rituximab plus cyclophosphamide, doxorubicin, vincristine, and prednisone), with the latter selected to permit comparison of patients experiencing a POD24 event with those having no progression at 5 years or more.Immune molecules showed distinct clustering, characterized by either high or low expression regardless of categorization as an immune effector, immune checkpoint, or macrophage molecule. Low programmed death-ligand 2 (PD-L2) was the most sensitive/specific marker to segregate patients with adverse outcomes; therefore, PD-L2 expression was chosen to distinguish immune infiltrationHI (ie, high PD-L2) FL biopsies from immune infiltrationLO (ie, low PD-L2) tumors. Immune infiltrationHI tissues were highly infiltrated with macrophages and expanded populations of T-cell clones. Of note, the immune infiltrationLO subset of patients with FL was enriched for POD24 events (odds ratio [OR], 4.32; c-statistic, 0.81; P = .001), validated in the independent cohorts (rituximab plus cyclophosphamide, vincristine, prednisone: OR, 2.95; c-statistic, 0.75; P = .011; and rituximab plus cyclophosphamide, doxorubicin, vincristine, and prednisone: OR, 7.09; c-statistic, 0.88; P = .011). Mutations were equally proportioned across tissues, which indicated that degree of immune infiltration is capturing aspects of FL biology distinct from its mutational profile.Assessment of immune-infiltration by PD-L2 expression is a promising tool with which to help identify patients who are at risk for POD24.
View details for DOI 10.1200/JCO.18.02365
View details for Web of Science ID 000510836300008
View details for PubMedID 31461379
View details for PubMedCentralID PMC6881104