Professional Education

  • Fellowship, University Hospital of Munich (LMU), Munich, Germany, Medicine - Hematology/Oncology (2017)
  • Dr. med., Charité - University Medicine Berlin, Berlin, Germany, Medicine (2015)
  • Residency Training, University Hospital of Munich (LMU), Munich, Germany, Medicine - Hematology/Oncology (2013)
  • M.D., Georg-August-Universität Göttingen, Göttingen, Germany, Medicine (2010)

All Publications

  • Convergent epigenetic evolution drives relapse in acute myeloid leukemia. eLife Nuno, K., Azizi, A., Koehnke, T., Lareau, C., Ediriwickrema, A., Corces, M. R., Satpathy, A. T., Majeti, R. 2024; 13


    Relapse of acute myeloid leukemia (AML) is highly aggressive and often treatment refractory. We analyzed previously published AML relapse cohorts and found that 40% of relapses occur without changes in driver mutations, suggesting that non-genetic mechanisms drive relapse in a large proportion of cases. We therefore characterized epigenetic patterns of AML relapse using 26 matched diagnosis-relapse samples with ATAC-seq. This analysis identified a relapse-specific chromatin accessibility signature for mutationally stable AML, suggesting that AML undergoes epigenetic evolution at relapse independent of mutational changes. Analysis of leukemia stem cell (LSC) chromatin changes at relapse indicated that this leukemic compartment underwent significantly less epigenetic evolution than non-LSCs, while epigenetic changes in non-LSCs reflected overall evolution of the bulk leukemia. Finally, we used single-cell ATAC-seq paired with mitochondrial sequencing (mtscATAC) to map clones from diagnosis into relapse along with their epigenetic features. We found that distinct mitochondrially-defined clones exhibit more similar chromatin accessibility at relapse relative to diagnosis, demonstrating convergent epigenetic evolution in relapsed AML. These results demonstrate that epigenetic evolution is a feature of relapsed AML and that convergent epigenetic evolution can occur following treatment with induction chemotherapy.

    View details for DOI 10.7554/eLife.93019

    View details for PubMedID 38647535

    View details for PubMedCentralID PMC11034943

  • Human ASXL1-mutant hematopoiesis is driven by a truncated protein associated with aberrant de-ubiquitination of H2AK119. Blood cancer discovery Kohnke, T., Nuno, K. A., Alder, C. C., Gars, E. J., Phan, P., Fan, A. C., Majeti, R. 2024


    Mutations in additional sex combs like 1 (ASXL1) confer poor prognosis both in myeloid malignancies and in pre-malignant clonal hematopoiesis (CH). However, the mechanisms by which these mutations contribute to disease initiation remain unresolved and mutation-specific targeting has remained elusive. To address this, we developed a human disease model that recapitulates the disease trajectory from ASXL1-mutant CH to lethal myeloid malignancy. We demonstrate that mutations in ASXL1 lead to the expression of a functional, truncated protein and determine that truncated ASXL1 leads to global redistribution of the repressive chromatin mark H2AK119Ub, increased transposase-accessible chromatin, and activation of both myeloid and stem cell gene expression programs. Finally, we demonstrate that H2AK119Ub levels are tied to truncated ASXL1 expression levels and leverage this observation to demonstrate that inhibition of the PRC1 complex might be an ASXL1-mutant specific therapeutic vulnerability both in pre-malignant CH and myeloid malignancy.

    View details for DOI 10.1158/2643-3230.BCD-23-0235

    View details for PubMedID 38359087

  • IDH1-mutant preleukemic hematopoietic stem cells can be eliminated by inhibition of oxidative phosphorylation. Blood cancer discovery Landberg, N., Köhnke, T., Feng, Y., Nakauchi, Y., Fan, A. C., Linde, M. H., Karigane, D., Lim, K., Sinha, R., Malcovati, L., Thomas, D., Majeti, R. 2023


    Rare preleukemic hematopoietic stem cells (pHSCs) harboring only the initiating mutations can be detected at the time of AML diagnosis. pHSCs are the origin of leukemia and a potential reservoir for relapse. Using primary human samples and gene-editing to model isocitrate dehydrogenase 1 (IDH1) mutant pHSCs, we show epigenetic, transcriptional, and metabolic differences between pHSCs and healthy hematopoietic stem cells (HSCs). We confirm that IDH1 driven clonal hematopoiesis is associated with cytopenia, suggesting an inherent defect to fully reconstitute hematopoiesis. Despite giving rise to multilineage engraftment, IDH1-mutant pHSCs exhibited reduced proliferation, blocked differentiation, downregulation of MHC Class II genes, and reprogramming of oxidative phosphorylation metabolism. Critically, inhibition of oxidative phosphorylation resulted in complete eradication of IDH1-mutant pHSCs but not IDH2-mutant pHSCs or wildtype HSCs. Our results indicate that IDH1-mutant preleukemic clones can be targeted with complex I inhibitors, offering a potential strategy to prevent development and relapse of leukemia.

    View details for DOI 10.1158/2643-3230.BCD-23-0195

    View details for PubMedID 38091010

  • ASXL1 Truncating Mutations Drive Leukemic Resistance to T Cell Attack McCurry, D., Ge, Z., Lee, J., Raparla, P., Koehnke, T., Pasumarthi, R., Leng, X., Pasvolsky, O., Nguyen, V., Maurer, K., Li, S., Livak, K. J., Azizi, E., Soiffer, R. J., Shukla, S., Majeti, R., Ritz, J., Wu, C. J., Molldrem, J. J., Bachireddy, P. AMER SOC HEMATOLOGY. 2023
  • Serum Amyloid A1 (SAA1) Secreted By the Stromal Microenvironment Drives Malignant Clonal Proliferation in Myelodysplastic Syndromes (MDS) and Acute Myeloid Leukemia (AML) Chernak, B., Galan-Diez, M., Ali, A., Cuesta-Dominguez, A., Chen, Z., Koehnke, T., Majeti, R., Carroll, M., Raza, A., Kousteni, S. AMER SOC HEMATOLOGY. 2023
  • Cebpβ/IL1/TNFα Positive Feedback Loop Drives Drug Resistance of BCL2 and MDM2 Inhibitors in Monocytic Leukemia Cells Allen, B., Bottomly, D., Wang, A., Koehnke, T., Savoy, L., Ryabini, P., Chen, R., Johnson, K., Kurtz, S. E., Agarwal, A., Barton, M., Druker, B. J., Majeti, R., Tyner, J. W., McWeeney, S. K., Zhang, H. AMER SOC HEMATOLOGY. 2023
  • BCOR Loss Confers Increased Stemness and Partially Rescues RUNX1-Deficient Phenotypes in Human Hematopoietic Stem and Progenitor Cells Jackson, K. K., Fan, A. C., Karigane, D., Zhao, F., Collins, C. T., Nakauchi, Y., Kayamori, K., Rangavajhula, A. S., Koehnke, T., Majeti, R. AMER SOC HEMATOLOGY. 2023
  • Gene Correction of DNMT3A:R882H in Primary Human AML Demonstrates That This Mutation Is Not Required for Disease Maintenance, but Is Associated with Increased Leukemia Stem Cell Frequency Koehnke, T., Karigane, D., Hilgart, E., Kayamori, K., Fan, A. C., Collins, C. T., Suchy, F. P., Rangavajhula, A. S., Feng, Y., Nakauchi, Y., Martinez-Montes, E., Koldobskiy, M., Feinberg, A., Majeti, R. AMER SOC HEMATOLOGY. 2023
  • Intra-Leukemic IFN. Signaling Mediates Cell Cycle Suppression and Chemoresistance in AML Karigane, D., Fan, A. C., Kayamori, K., Nakauchi, Y., Koehnke, T., Rangavajhula, A. S., Ediriwickrema, A., Majeti, R. AMER SOC HEMATOLOGY. 2023
  • Engineering Sequential Mutations into Human HSPCs Yields an Aggressive Myeloid Malignancy Allowing for Interrogation of Preleukemic Transformation Collins, C. T., Nakauchi, Y., Koehnke, T., Chavez, J. S., Choi, S., Sharma, R., Zhao, F., Majeti, R. AMER SOC HEMATOLOGY. 2023
  • RUNX1 loss renders hematopoietic and leukemic cells dependent on interleukin-3 and sensitive to JAK inhibition. The Journal of clinical investigation Fan, A. C., Nakauchi, Y., Bai, L., Azizi, A., Nuno, K. A., Zhao, F., Köhnke, T., Karigane, D., Cruz-Hernandez, D., Reinisch, A., Khatri, P., Majeti, R. 2023


    Disease-initiating mutations in the transcription factor RUNX1 occur as germline and somatic events that cause leukemias with particularly poor prognosis. However, the role of RUNX1 in leukemogenesis is not fully understood and effective therapies for RUNX1-mutant leukemias remain elusive. Here, we use primary patient samples and a RUNX1 knockout model in primary human hematopoietic cells to investigate how RUNX1 loss contributes to leukemic progression and to identify targetable vulnerabilities. Surprisingly, we found that RUNX1 loss decreased proliferative capacity and stem cell function. However, RUNX1-deficient cells selectively upregulated the interleukin-3 (IL-3) receptor. Exposure to IL-3, but not other JAK/STAT cytokines, rescued RUNX1 KO proliferative and competitive defects. Further, we demonstrated that RUNX1 loss repressed JAK/STAT signaling and rendered RUNX1-deficient cells sensitive to JAK inhibitors. Our study identifies a dependency of RUNX1-mutant leukemias on IL-3/JAK/STAT signaling, which may enable these aggressive blood cancers to be targeted with existing agents.

    View details for DOI 10.1172/JCI167053

    View details for PubMedID 37581927

  • Engineering Oncogenic Heterozygous Gain-of-Function Mutations in Human Hematopoietic Stem and Progenitor Cells. Journal of visualized experiments : JoVE Sconocchia, T., Foßelteder, J., Köhnke, T., Majeti, R., Reinisch, A. 2023


    Throughout their lifetime, hematopoietic stem and progenitor cells (HSPCs) acquire somatic mutations. Some of these mutations alter HSPC functional properties such as proliferation and differentiation, thereby promoting the development of hematologic malignancies. Efficient and precise genetic manipulation of HSPCs is required to model, characterize, and better understand the functional consequences of recurrent somatic mutations. Mutations can have a deleterious effect on a gene and result in loss-of-function (LOF) or, in stark contrast, may enhance function or even lead to novel characteristics of a particular gene, termed gain-of-function (GOF). In contrast to LOF mutations, GOF mutations almost exclusively occur in a heterozygous fashion. Current genome-editing protocols do not allow for the selective targeting of individual alleles, hampering the ability to model heterozygous GOF mutations. Here, we provide a detailed protocol on how to engineer heterozygous GOF hotspot mutations in human HSPCs by combining CRISPR/Cas9-mediated homology-directed repair and recombinant AAV6 technology for efficient DNA donor template transfer. Importantly, this strategy makes use of a dual fluorescent reporter system to allow for the tracking and purification of successfully heterozygously edited HSPCs. This strategy can be employed to precisely investigate how GOF mutations affect HSPC function and their progression toward hematological malignancies.

    View details for DOI 10.3791/64558

    View details for PubMedID 36971438

  • Reprogramming Cancer into Antigen Presenting Cells as a Novel Immunotherapy. Cancer discovery Linde, M. H., Fan, A. C., Kohnke, T., Trotman-Grant, A. C., Gurev, S. F., Phan, P., Zhao, F., Haddock, N. L., Nuno, K. A., Gars, E. J., Stafford, M., Marshall, P. L., Dove, C. G., Linde, I. L., Landberg, N., Miller, L. P., Majzner, R. G., Zhang, T. Y., Majeti, R. 2023


    Therapeutic cancer vaccination seeks to elicit activation of tumor-reactive T cells capable of recognizing tumor-associated antigens (TAAs) and eradicating malignant cells. Here, we present a cancer vaccination approach utilizing myeloid lineage reprogramming to directly convert cancer cells into tumor reprogrammed-antigen presenting cells (TR-APCs). Using syngeneic murine leukemia models, we demonstrate that TR-APCs acquire both myeloid phenotype and function, process and present endogenous TAAs, and potently stimulate TAA-specific CD4+ and CD8+ T cells. In vivo TR-APC induction elicits clonal expansion of cancer-specific T cells, establishes cancer-specific immune memory, and ultimately promotes leukemia eradication. We further show that both hematologic cancers and solid tumors, including sarcomas and carcinomas, are amenable to myeloid-lineage reprogramming into TR-APCs. Finally, we demonstrate the clinical applicability of this approach by generating TR-APCs from primary clinical specimens and stimulating autologous patient-derived T cells. Thus, TR-APCs represent a cancer vaccination therapeutic strategy with broad implications for clinical immuno-oncology.

    View details for DOI 10.1158/2159-8290.CD-21-0502

    View details for PubMedID 36856575

  • Targeting IDH1-Mutated Pre-Leukemic Hematopoietic Stem Cells in Myeloid Disease, Including CCUS and AML Landberg, N., Koehnke, T., Nakauchi, Y., Fan, A., Karigane, D., Thomas, D., Majeti, R. AMER SOC HEMATOLOGY. 2022: 2234-2235
  • Uncovering the Enemy: Single-Cell Transcriptional Profiling of Measurable Residual Disease (MRD) Cells Kazerani, M., Wange, L., Tast, B., Solovey, M., Nixdorf, D., Rohrbacher, L., Heitmueller, C., Koehnke, T., Schnorfeil, F., Grunwald, V. V., Spiekermann, K., Metzeler, K. H., Hopfner, K., Enard, W., Buecklein, V. L., Subklewe, M. AMER SOC HEMATOLOGY. 2022: 6321-6322
  • Dysregulated lipid synthesis by oncogenic IDH1 mutation is a targetable synthetic lethal vulnerability. Cancer discovery Thomas, D., Wu, M., Nakauchi, Y., Zheng, M., Thompson-Peach, C. A., Lim, K., Landberg, N., Kohnke, T., Robinson, N., Kaur, S., Kutyna, M., Stafford, M., Hiwase, D., Reinisch, A., Peltz, G., Majeti, R. 2022


    Isocitrate dehydrogenase 1 and 2 (IDH) are mutated in multiple cancers and drive production of (R)-2-hydroxyglutarate (2HG). We identified a lipid synthesis enzyme (acetyl CoA carboxylase 1, ACC1) as a synthetic lethal target in mutant IDH1 (mIDH1), but not mIDH2, cancers. Here, we analyzed the metabolome of primary acute myeloid leukemia (AML) blasts and identified a mIDH1-specific reduction in fatty acids. mIDH1 also induced a switch to beta-oxidation indicating reprogramming of metabolism towards a reliance on fatty acids. Compared to mIDH2, mIDH1 AML displayed depletion of NADPH with defective reductive carboxylation that was not rescued by the mIDH1-specific inhibitor ivosidenib. In xenograft models, a lipid-free diet markedly slowed the growth of mIDH1 AML, but not healthy CD34+ HSPCs or mIDH2 AML. Genetic and pharmacologic targeting of ACC1 resulted in growth inhibition of mIDH1 cancers, not reversible by ivosidenib. Critically, pharmacologic targeting of ACC1 improved sensitivity of mIDH1 AML to venetoclax.

    View details for DOI 10.1158/2159-8290.CD-21-0218

    View details for PubMedID 36355448

  • Integrated multiomic approach for identification of novel immunotherapeutic targets in AML. Biomarker research Köhnke, T., Liu, X., Haubner, S., Bücklein, V., Hänel, G., Krupka, C., Solis-Mezarino, V., Herzog, F., Subklewe, M. 2022; 10 (1): 43


    Immunotherapy of acute myeloid leukemia has experienced considerable advances, however novel target antigens continue to be sought after. To this end, unbiased approaches for surface protein detection are limited and integration with other data types, such as gene expression and somatic mutational burden, are poorly utilized. The Cell Surface Capture technology provides an unbiased, discovery-driven approach to map the surface proteins on cells of interest. Yet, direct utilization of primary patient samples has been limited by the considerable number of viable cells needed.Here, we optimized the Cell Surface Capture protocol to enable direct interrogation of primary patient samples and applied our optimized protocol to a set of samples from patients with acute myeloid leukemia (AML) to generate the AML surfaceome. We then further curated this AML surfaceome to exclude antigens expressed on healthy tissues and integrated mutational burden data from hematologic cancers to further enrich for targets which are likely to be essential to leukemia biology. Finally, we validated our findings in a separate cohort of AML patient samples.Our protocol modifications allowed us to double the yield in identified proteins and increased the specificity from 54 to 80.4% compared to previous approaches. Using primary AML patient samples, we were able to identify a total of 621 surface proteins comprising the AML surfaceome. We integrated this data with gene expression and mutational burden data to curate a set of robust putative target antigens. Seventy-six proteins were selected as potential candidates for further investigation of which we validated the most promising novel candidate markers, and identified CD148, ITGA4 and Integrin beta-7 as promising targets in AML. Integrin beta-7 showed the most promising combination of expression in patient AML samples, and low or absent expression on healthy hematopoietic tissue.Taken together, we demonstrate the feasibility of a highly optimized surfaceome detection method to interrogate the entire AML surfaceome directly from primary patient samples and integrate this data with gene expression and mutational burden data to achieve a robust, multiomic target identification platform. This approach has the potential to accelerate the unbiased target identification for immunotherapy of AML.

    View details for DOI 10.1186/s40364-022-00390-4

    View details for PubMedID 35681175

    View details for PubMedCentralID PMC9185890

  • The cell type specific 5hmC landscape and dynamics of healthy human hematopoiesis and TET2-mutant pre-leukemia. Blood cancer discovery Nakauchi, Y., Azizi, A., Thomas, D., Corces, M. R., Reinisch, A., Sharma, R., Cruz Hernandez, D., Kohnke, T., Karigane, D., Fan, A., Martinez-Krams, D., Stafford, M., Kaur, S., Dutta, R., Phan, P., Ediriwickrema, A., McCarthy, E., Ning, Y., Phillips, T., Ellison, C. K., Guler, G. D., Bergamaschi, A., Ku, C., Levy, S., Majeti, R. 2022


    The conversion of 5-methylcytosine (5mC) to 5-hydroxymethylcytosine (5hmC) is a key step in DNA demethylation that is mediated by ten-eleven-translocation (TET) enzymes, which require ascorbate/vitamin C. Here, we report the 5hmC landscape of normal hematopoiesis and identify cell type-specific 5hmC profiles associated with active transcription and chromatin accessibility of key hematopoietic regulators. We utilized CRISPR/Cas9 to model TET2 loss-of-function mutations in primary human HSPCs. Disrupted cells exhibited increased colonies in serial replating, defective erythroid/megakaryocytic differentiation, and in vivo competitive advantage and myeloid skewing coupled with reduction of 5hmC at erythroid-associated gene loci. Azacitidine and ascorbate restored 5hmC abundance and slowed or reverted the expansion of TET2-mutant clones in vivo. These results demonstrate the key role of 5hmC in normal hematopoiesis and TET2-mutant phenotypes and raise the possibility of utilizing these agents to further our understanding of pre-leukemia/clonal hematopoiesis.

    View details for DOI 10.1158/2643-3230.BCD-21-0143

    View details for PubMedID 35532363

  • Clonal hematopoiesis: from mechanisms to clinical intervention. Cancer discovery Kohnke, T., Majeti, R. 2021


    Our knowledge of how clonal hematopoiesis (CH) relates to diverse health conditions has grown vastly over the past years, touching upon many specialties beyond cancer medicine. Given that CH can act as a precursor to overt disease in many settings, the promise of early intervention has garnered much attention. In this review, we discuss the state of CH research and outline the challenges in developing clinical trials of early interventions. We anticipate that incidental findings of CH will become more common in the near future, but evidence-based efforts of how to manage these findings is currently lacking.

    View details for DOI 10.1158/2159-8290.CD-21-0901

    View details for PubMedID 34407958

  • The TRACE-Seq method tracks recombination alleles and identifies clonal reconstitution dynamics of gene targeted human hematopoietic stem cells. Nature communications Sharma, R. n., Dever, D. P., Lee, C. M., Azizi, A. n., Pan, Y. n., Camarena, J. n., Köhnke, T. n., Bao, G. n., Porteus, M. H., Majeti, R. n. 2021; 12 (1): 472


    Targeted DNA correction of disease-causing mutations in hematopoietic stem and progenitor cells (HSPCs) may enable the treatment of genetic diseases of the blood and immune system. It is now possible to correct mutations at high frequencies in HSPCs by combining CRISPR/Cas9 with homologous DNA donors. Because of the precision of gene correction, these approaches preclude clonal tracking of gene-targeted HSPCs. Here, we describe Tracking Recombination Alleles in Clonal Engraftment using sequencing (TRACE-Seq), a methodology that utilizes barcoded AAV6 donor template libraries, carrying in-frame silent mutations or semi-randomized nucleotides outside the coding region, to track the in vivo lineage contribution of gene-targeted HSPC clones. By targeting the HBB gene with an AAV6 donor template library consisting of ~20,000 possible unique exon 1 in-frame silent mutations, we track the hematopoietic reconstitution of HBB targeted myeloid-skewed, lymphoid-skewed, and balanced multi-lineage repopulating human HSPC clones in mice. We anticipate this methodology could potentially be used for HSPC clonal tracking of Cas9 RNP and AAV6-mediated gene targeting outcomes in translational and basic research settings.

    View details for DOI 10.1038/s41467-020-20792-y

    View details for PubMedID 33473139

  • Chromatin Accessibility Analysis Reveals Epigenetic Evolution Is a Common Mechanism of Relapse in Acute Myeloid Leukemia Nuno, K. A., Azizi, A., Koehnke, T., Ediriwickrema, A., Corces, M., Majeti, R. 2021
  • Enasidenib drives human erythroid differentiation independently of isocitrate dehydrogenase 2. The Journal of clinical investigation Dutta, R. n., Zhang, T. Y., Köhnke, T. n., Thomas, D. n., Linde, M. n., Gars, E. n., Stafford, M. n., Kaur, S. n., Nakauchi, Y. n., Yin, R. n., Azizi, A. n., Narla, A. n., Majeti, R. n. 2020


    Cancer-related anemia is present in over 60% of newly diagnosed cancer patients and is associated with substantial morbidity and high medical costs. Drugs that enhance erythropoiesis are urgently required to decrease transfusion rates and improve quality of life. Clinical studies have observed an unexpected improvement in hemoglobin and red blood cell (RBC) transfusion-independence in AML patients treated with the isocitrate dehydrogenase 2 (IDH2) mutant-specific inhibitor, enasidenib, leading to improved quality of life without a reduction in AML disease burden. Here, we demonstrate that enasidenib enhanced human erythroid differentiation of hematopoietic progenitors. The phenomenon was not observed with other IDH1/2 inhibitors and occurred in IDH2-deficient CRIPSR-engineered progenitors independently of D-2-hydroxyglutarate. The effect of enasidenib on hematopoietic progenitors was mediated by protoporphyrin accumulation, driving heme production and erythroid differentiation in committed CD71+ progenitors rather than hematopoietic stem cells. Our results position enasidenib as a promising therapeutic agent for improvement of anemia and provide the basis for a clinical trial using enasidenib to decrease transfusion dependence in a wide array of clinical contexts.

    View details for DOI 10.1172/JCI133344

    View details for PubMedID 31895700

  • Toll-like receptor 7/8-matured RNA-transduced dendritic cells as post-remission therapy in acute myeloid leukaemia: results of a phase I trial CLINICAL & TRANSLATIONAL IMMUNOLOGY Lichtenegger, F. S., Schnorfeil, F. M., Rothe, M., Deiser, K., Altmann, T., Buecklein, V. L., Koehnke, T., Augsberger, C., Konstandin, N. P., Spiekermann, K., Moosmann, A., Boehm, S., Boxberg, M., Heemskerk, M. M., Goerlich, D., Wittmann, G., Wagner, B., Hiddemann, W., Schendel, D. J., Kvalheim, G., Bigalke, I., Subklewe, M. 2020; 9 (3): e1117


    Innovative post-remission therapies are needed to eliminate residual AML cells. DC vaccination is a promising strategy to induce anti-leukaemic immune responses.We conducted a first-in-human phase I study using TLR7/8-matured DCs transfected with RNA encoding the two AML-associated antigens WT1 and PRAME as well as CMVpp65. AML patients in CR at high risk of relapse were vaccinated 10× over 26 weeks.Despite heavy pretreatment, DCs of sufficient number and quality were generated from a single leukapheresis in 11/12 cases, and 10 patients were vaccinated. Administration was safe and resulted in local inflammatory responses with dense T-cell infiltration. In peripheral blood, increased antigen-specific CD8+ T cells were seen for WT1 (2/10), PRAME (4/10) and CMVpp65 (9/10). For CMVpp65, increased CD4+ T cells were detected in 4/7 patients, and an antibody response was induced in 3/7 initially seronegative patients. Median OS was not reached after 1057 days; median RFS was 1084 days. A positive correlation was observed between clinical benefit and younger age as well as mounting of antigen-specific immune responses.Administration of TLR7/8-matured DCs to AML patients in CR at high risk of relapse was feasible and safe and resulted in induction of antigen-specific immune responses. Clinical benefit appeared to occur more likely in patients <65 and in patients mounting an immune response. Our observations need to be validated in a larger patient cohort. We hypothesise that TLR7/8 DC vaccination strategies should be combined with hypomethylating agents or checkpoint inhibition to augment immune responses.The study was registered at on 17 October 2012 (NCT01734304) and at (EudraCT-Number 2010-022446-24) on 10 October 2013.

    View details for DOI 10.1002/cti2.1117

    View details for Web of Science ID 000522447300007

    View details for PubMedID 32153780

    View details for PubMedCentralID PMC7053229

  • Integrated analysis of patient samples identifies biomarkers for venetoclax efficacy and combination strategies in acute myeloid leukemia. Nature cancer Zhang, H. n., Nakauchi, Y. n., Köhnke, T. n., Stafford, M. n., Bottomly, D. n., Thomas, R. n., Wilmot, B. n., McWeeney, S. K., Majeti, R. n., Tyner, J. W. 2020; 1 (8): 826–39


    Deregulation of the BCL2 gene family plays an important role in the pathogenesis of acute myeloid leukemia (AML). The BCL2 inhibitor, venetoclax, has received FDA approval for the treatment of AML. However, upfront and acquired drug resistance ensues due, in part, to the clinical and genetic heterogeneity of AML, highlighting the importance of identifying biomarkers to stratify patients onto the most effective therapies. By integrating clinical characteristics, exome and RNA sequencing, and inhibitor data from primary AML patient samples, we determined that myelomonocytic leukemia, upregulation of BCL2A1 and CLEC7A, as well as mutations of PTPN11 and KRAS conferred resistance to venetoclax and multiple venetoclax combinations. Venetoclax in combination with an MCL1 inhibitor AZD5991 induced synthetic lethality and circumvented venetoclax resistance.

    View details for DOI 10.1038/s43018-020-0103-x

    View details for PubMedID 33123685

    View details for PubMedCentralID PMC7591155

  • Single-cell mutational profiling enhances the clinical evaluation of AML MRD. Blood advances Ediriwickrema, A. n., Aleshin, A. n., Reiter, J. G., Corces, M. R., Köhnke, T. n., Stafford, M. n., Liedtke, M. n., Medeiros, B. C., Majeti, R. n. 2020; 4 (5): 943–52


    Although most patients with acute myeloid leukemia (AML) achieve clinical remission with induction chemotherapy, relapse rates remain high. Next-generation sequencing enables minimal/measurable residual disease (MRD) detection; however, clinical significance is limited due to difficulty differentiating between pre-leukemic clonal hematopoiesis and frankly malignant clones. Here, we investigated AML MRD using targeted single-cell sequencing (SCS) at diagnosis, remission, and relapse (n = 10 relapsed, n = 4 nonrelapsed), with a total of 310 737 single cells sequenced. Sequence variants were identified in 80% and 75% of remission samples for patients with and without relapse, respectively. Pre-leukemic clonal hematopoiesis clones were detected in both cohorts, and clones with multiple cooccurring mutations were observed in 50% and 0% of samples. Similar clonal richness was observed at diagnosis in both cohorts; however, decreasing clonal diversity at remission was significantly associated with longer relapse-free survival. These results show the power of SCS in investigating AML MRD and clonal evolution.

    View details for DOI 10.1182/bloodadvances.2019001181

    View details for PubMedID 32150611

  • Response assessment in acute myeloid leukemia by flow cytometry supersedes cytomorphology at time of aplasia, amends cases without molecular residual disease marker and serves as an independent prognostic marker at time of aplasia and post-induction HAEMATOLOGICA Koehnke, T., Buecklein, V., Rechkemmer, S., Schneider, S., Rothenberg-Thurley, M., Metzeler, K. H., Sauerland, M., Hiddemann, W., Spiekermann, K., Subklewe, M. 2019; 104 (11): E510–E513

    View details for DOI 10.3324/haematol.2018.215236

    View details for Web of Science ID 000493893000005

    View details for PubMedID 30948486

    View details for PubMedCentralID PMC6821611

  • Asparaginase activities during intensified treatment with pegylated E. coli asparaginase in adults with newly-diagnosed acute lymphoblastic leukemia LEUKEMIA & LYMPHOMA Lanvers-Kaminsky, C., Niemann, A., Eveslage, M., Beck, J., Koehnke, T., Martin, S., de Wit, M., Spriewald, B., Hauspurg, H., Hoelzer, D., Boos, J., Goekbuget, N. 2020; 61 (1): 138–45


    The GMALL07/2003 protocol introduced pegylated E. coli asparaginase (PEG-ASNase) frontline for adults with acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL). PEG-ASNase (500 U/m2, 1000 U/m2, or 2000 U/m2) was given once in induction and as part of three HD-MTX/PEG-ASNase cycles with two PEG-ASNase doses every other week in consolidation. PEG-ASNase activities were monitored in 1363 serum samples from 304 ALL patients. The overall rate of silent inactivation was low (5%) and did not differ between induction and consolidation. The successful targeting of PEG-ASNase activities ≥100 U/L depended on protocol and dose. Overall PEG-ASNase activities were higher during consolidation compared to induction. To target PEG-ASNase activities ≥100 U/L for 14 day with a single dose in induction, 2000 U/m2 was more preferable than 1000 U/m2 or 500 U/m2. During consolidation with two administrations every other week, 1000 U/m2 and 2000 U/m2 were similarly effective in sustaining PEG-ASNase ≥100 U/L activities over 14 days.

    View details for DOI 10.1080/10428194.2019.1658099

    View details for Web of Science ID 000484933600001

    View details for PubMedID 31480965

  • A Role for Lipid Mediators in Acute Myeloid Leukemia INTERNATIONAL JOURNAL OF MOLECULAR SCIENCES Loew, A., Koehnke, T., Rehbeil, E., Pietzner, A., Weylandt, K. 2019; 20 (10)


    In spite of therapeutic improvements in the treatment of different hematologic malignancies, the prognosis of acute myeloid leukemia (AML) treated solely with conventional induction and consolidation chemotherapy remains poor, especially in association with high risk chromosomal or molecular aberrations. Recent discoveries describe the complex interaction of immune effector cells, as well as the role of the bone marrow microenvironment in the development, maintenance and progression of AML. Lipids, and in particular omega-3 as well as omega-6 polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs) have been shown to play a vital role as signaling molecules of immune processes in numerous benign and malignant conditions. While the majority of research in cancer has been focused on the role of lipid mediators in solid tumors, some data are showing their involvement also in hematologic malignancies. There is a considerable amount of evidence that AML cells are targetable by innate and adaptive immune mechanisms, paving the way for immune therapy approaches in AML. In this article we review the current data showing the lipid mediator and lipidome patterns in AML and their potential links to immune mechanisms.

    View details for DOI 10.3390/ijms20102425

    View details for Web of Science ID 000471001400056

    View details for PubMedID 31100828

    View details for PubMedCentralID PMC6567850

  • Barcoded Clonal Tracking of CRISPR-Cas9 and rAAV6-Mediated Gene Targeting in Human Hematopoietic Stem and Progenitor Cells Dever, D. P., Sharma, R., Lee, C. M., Aziz, A., Koehnke, T., Camarena, J., Pan, Y., Zhao, F., Bao, G., Majeti, R., Porteus, M. CELL PRESS. 2019: 5
  • Data mining for mutation-specific targets in acute myeloid leukemia. Leukemia Benard, B., Gentles, A. J., Kohnke, T., Majeti, R., Thomas, D. 2019


    Three mutation-specific targeted therapies have recently been approved by the FDA for the treatment of acute myeloid leukemia (AML): midostaurin for FLT3 mutations, enasidenib for relapsed or refractorycases with IDH2 mutations, and ivosidenib for cases with an IDH1 mutation. Together, these agents offer a mutation-directed treatment approach for up to 45% of de novo adult AML cases, a welcome deluge after a prolonged drought. At the same time, a number of computational tools have recently been developed that promise to further accelerate progress in mutation-specific therapy for AML and other cancers. Technical advances together with comprehensively annotated AML tissue banks have resulted in the availability of large and complex data sets for exploration by the end-user, including (i) microarray gene expression, (ii) exome sequencing, (iii) deep sequencing data of sub-clone heterogeneity, (iv) RNA sequencing of gene expression (bulk and single cell), (v) DNA methylation and chromatin, (vi) and germline quantitative trait loci. Yet few clinicians or experimental hematologists have the time or the training to access or analyze these repositories. This review summarizes the data sets and bioinformatic tools currently available to further the discovery of mutation-specific targets with an emphasis on web-based applications that are open, accessible, user-friendly, and do not require coding experience to navigate. We show examples of how available data can be mined to identify potential targets using synthetic lethality, drug repurposing, epigenetic sub-grouping, and proteomic networks while also highlighting strengths and limitations and the need for superior models for validation.

    View details for PubMedID 30728456

  • Coexpression profile of leukemic stem cell markers for combinatorial targeted therapy in AML. Leukemia Haubner, S., Perna, F., Köhnke, T., Schmidt, C., Berman, S., Augsberger, C., Schnorfeil, F. M., Krupka, C., Lichtenegger, F. S., Liu, X., Kerbs, P., Schneider, S., Metzeler, K. H., Spiekermann, K., Hiddemann, W., Greif, P. A., Herold, T., Sadelain, M., Subklewe, M. 2019; 33 (1): 64-74


    Targeted immunotherapy in acute myeloid leukemia (AML) is challenged by the lack of AML-specific target antigens and clonal heterogeneity, leading to unwanted on-target off-leukemia toxicity and risk of relapse from minor clones. We hypothesize that combinatorial targeting of AML cells can enhance therapeutic efficacy without increasing toxicity. To identify target antigen combinations specific for AML and leukemic stem cells, we generated a detailed protein expression profile based on flow cytometry of primary AML (n = 356) and normal bone marrow samples (n = 34), and a recently reported integrated normal tissue proteomic data set. We analyzed antigen expression levels of CD33, CD123, CLL1, TIM3, CD244 and CD7 on AML bulk and leukemic stem cells at initial diagnosis (n = 302) and relapse (n = 54). CD33, CD123, CLL1, TIM3 and CD244 were ubiquitously expressed on AML bulk cells at initial diagnosis and relapse, irrespective of genetic characteristics. For each analyzed target, we found additional expression in different populations of normal hematopoiesis. Analyzing the coexpression of our six targets in all dual combinations (n = 15), we found CD33/TIM3 and CLL1/TIM3 to be highly positive in AML compared with normal hematopoiesis and non-hematopoietic tissues. Our findings indicate that combinatorial targeting of CD33/TIM3 or CLL1/TIM3 may enhance therapeutic efficacy without aggravating toxicity in immunotherapy of AML.

    View details for DOI 10.1038/s41375-018-0180-3

    View details for PubMedID 29946192

    View details for PubMedCentralID PMC6326956

  • Azacitidine and Ascorbate Inhibit the Competitive Outgrowth of Human TET2 Mutant HSPCs in a Xenograft Model of Pre-Leukemia Nakauchi, Y., Thomas, D., Sharma, R., Corces, M., Reinisch, A., Cruz, D., Koehnke, T., Karigane, D., Fan, A., Majeti, R. AMER SOC HEMATOLOGY. 2018
  • Persistence of pre-leukemic clones during first remission and risk of relapse in acute myeloid leukemia. Leukemia Rothenberg-Thurley, M., Amler, S., Goerlich, D., Köhnke, T., Konstandin, N. P., Schneider, S., Sauerland, M. C., Herold, T., Hubmann, M., Ksienzyk, B., Zellmeier, E., Bohlander, S. K., Subklewe, M., Faldum, A., Hiddemann, W., Braess, J., Spiekermann, K., Metzeler, K. H. 2018; 32 (7): 1598-1608


    Some patients with acute myeloid leukemia (AML) who are in complete remission after induction chemotherapy harbor persisting pre-leukemic clones, carrying a subset of leukemia-associated somatic mutations. There is conflicting evidence on the prognostic relevance of these clones for AML relapse. Here, we characterized paired pre-treatment and remission samples from 126 AML patients for mutations in 68 leukemia-associated genes. Fifty patients (40%) retained ≥1 mutation during remission at a VAF of ≥2%. Mutation persistence was most frequent in DNMT3A (65% of patients with mutations at diagnosis), SRSF2 (64%), TET2 (55%), and ASXL1 (46%), and significantly associated with older age (p < 0.0001) and, in multivariate analyses adjusting for age, genetic risk, and allogeneic transplantation, with inferior relapse-free survival (hazard ratio (HR), 2.34; p = 0.0039) and overall survival (HR, 2.14; p = 0.036). Patients with persisting mutations had a higher cumulative incidence of relapse before, but not after allogeneic stem cell transplantation. Our work underlines the relevance of mutation persistence during first remission as a novel risk factor in AML. Persistence of pre-leukemic clones may contribute to the inferior outcome of elderly AML patients. Allogeneic transplantation abrogated the increased relapse risk associated with persisting pre-leukemic clones, suggesting that mutation persistence may guide post-remission treatment.

    View details for DOI 10.1038/s41375-018-0034-z

    View details for PubMedID 29472724

    View details for PubMedCentralID PMC6035153

  • Diagnosis of CLL revisited: increased specificity by a modified five-marker scoring system including CD200. British journal of haematology Köhnke, T., Wittmann, V. K., Bücklein, V. L., Lichtenegger, F., Pasalic, Z., Hiddemann, W., Spiekermann, K., Subklewe, M. 2017; 179 (3): 480-487


    The modified Matutes score has been the basis for the diagnosis of chronic lymphocytic leukaemia (CLL) by flow cytometry for the past 15 years. To increase the specificity of the current score we systematically evaluated the diagnostic value of established as well as novel markers, such as CD200, in a large cohort of patients with untreated B-cell malignancies (n = 370). Double positivity for CD5 and CD23 was of very high value to differentiate between CLL and non-CLL cases. In addition, lack of FMC7 expression as well as CD79b expression intensity showed high sensitivity (90·4% and 92·3%) with acceptable specificity (74·4% and 76·9%). For surface IgM, low or absent expression displayed poor specificity in distinguishing CLL from non-CLL cases (51,3%; sensitivity 83,7%). Finally, CD200 positivity showed high sensitivity and specificity. Therefore, CD5/CD23, FMC7, CD79b and CD200 were included in our new CLLflow score, which retained high sensitivity (97·1% vs. 98·6% for the Matutes score, P = 0·38), but showed markedly increased specificity (87·2% vs. 53·8%, P < 0·001). These results were confirmed in our validation cohort (sensitivity 97·0% vs. 100%, P = not applicable; specificity 86·4% vs. 59·1%, P = 0·03). Our data support the use of our new CLLflow score for the diagnosis of CLL with significantly higher specificity.

    View details for DOI 10.1111/bjh.14901

    View details for PubMedID 28832948

  • Recent developments in immunotherapy of acute myeloid leukemia. Journal of hematology & oncology Lichtenegger, F. S., Krupka, C., Haubner, S., Köhnke, T., Subklewe, M. 2017; 10 (1): 142


    The advent of new immunotherapeutic agents in clinical practice has revolutionized cancer treatment in the past decade, both in oncology and hematology. The transfer of the immunotherapeutic concepts to the treatment of acute myeloid leukemia (AML) is hampered by various characteristics of the disease, including non-leukemia-restricted target antigen expression profile, low endogenous immune responses, and intrinsic resistance mechanisms of the leukemic blasts against immune responses. However, considerable progress has been made in this field in the past few years.Within this manuscript, we review the recent developments and the current status of the five currently most prominent immunotherapeutic concepts: (1) antibody-drug conjugates, (2) T cell-recruiting antibody constructs, (3) chimeric antigen receptor (CAR) T cells, (4) checkpoint inhibitors, and (5) dendritic cell vaccination. We focus on the clinical data that has been published so far, both for newly diagnosed and refractory/relapsed AML, but omitting immunotherapeutic concepts in conjunction with hematopoietic stem cell transplantation. Besides, we have included important clinical trials that are currently running or have recently been completed but are still lacking full publication of their results.While each of the concepts has its particular merits and inherent problems, the field of immunotherapy of AML seems to have taken some significant steps forward. Results of currently running trials will reveal the direction of further development including approaches combining two or more of these concepts.

    View details for DOI 10.1186/s13045-017-0505-0

    View details for PubMedID 28743264

    View details for PubMedCentralID PMC5526264

  • Targeting CD157 in AML using a novel, Fc-engineered antibody construct. Oncotarget Krupka, C., Lichtenegger, F. S., Köhnke, T., Bögeholz, J., Bücklein, V., Roiss, M., Altmann, T., Do, T. U., Dusek, R., Wilson, K., Bisht, A., Terrett, J., Aud, D., Pombo-Villar, E., Rohlff, C., Hiddemann, W., Subklewe, M. 2017; 8 (22): 35707-35717


    Antibody-based immunotherapy represents a promising strategy to eliminate chemorefractory leukemic cells in acute myeloid leukemia (AML). In this study, we evaluated a novel Fc-engineered antibody against CD157 (MEN1112) for its suitability as immunotherapy in AML. CD157 was expressed in 97% of primary AML patient samples. A significant, albeit lower expression level of CD157 was observed within the compartment of leukemia-initiating cells, which are supposed to be the major source of relapse. In healthy donor bone marrow, CD157 was expressed on CD34+ cells. In ex vivo assays, MEN1112 triggered natural killer (NK) cell-mediated cytotoxicity against AML cell lines and primary AML cells. Compared to its parental analogue, the Fc-engineered antibody exhibited higher antibody dependent cellular cytotoxicity responses. Using NK cells from AML patients, we observed heterogeneous MEN1112-mediated cytotoxicity against AML cells, most likely due to well-documented defects in AML-NK cells and corresponding inter-patient variations in NK cell function. Cytotoxicity could not be correlated to the time after completion of chemotherapy. In summary, we could demonstrate that CD157 is strongly expressed in AML. MEN1112 is a promising antibody construct that showed high cytotoxicity against AML cells and warrants further clinical testing. Due to variability in NK-cell function of AML patients, the time of application during the course of the disease as well as combinatorial strategies might influence treatment results.

    View details for DOI 10.18632/oncotarget.16060

    View details for PubMedID 28415689

    View details for PubMedCentralID PMC5482610

  • Blockade of the PD-1/PD-L1 axis augments lysis of AML cells by the CD33/CD3 BiTE antibody construct AMG 330: reversing a T-cell-induced immune escape mechanism. Leukemia Krupka, C., Kufer, P., Kischel, R., Zugmaier, G., Lichtenegger, F. S., Köhnke, T., Vick, B., Jeremias, I., Metzeler, K. H., Altmann, T., Schneider, S., Fiegl, M., Spiekermann, K., Bauerle, P. A., Hiddemann, W., Riethmüller, G., Subklewe, M. 2016; 30 (2): 484-91


    Bispecific T-cell engagers (BiTEs) are very effective in recruiting and activating T cells. We tested the cytotoxicity of the CD33/CD3 BiTE antibody construct AMG 330 on primary acute myeloid leukemia (AML) cells ex vivo and characterized parameters contributing to antileukemic cytolytic activity. The E:T ratio and the CD33 expression level significantly influenced lysis kinetics in long-term cultures of primary AML cells (n=38). AMG 330 induced T-cell-mediated proinflammatory conditions, favoring the upregulation of immune checkpoints on target and effector cells. Although not constitutively expressed at the time of primary diagnosis (n=123), PD-L1 was strongly upregulated on primary AML cells upon AMG 330 addition to ex vivo cultures (n=27, P<0.0001). This phenomenon was cytokine-driven as the sole addition of interferon (IFN)-γ and tumor necrosis factor-α also induced expression. Through blockade of the PD-1/PD-L1 interaction, AMG 330-mediated lysis (n=9, P=0.03), T-cell proliferation (n=9, P=0.01) and IFN-γ secretion (n=8, P=0.008) were significantly enhanced. The combinatorial approach was most beneficial in settings of protracted AML cell lysis. Taken together, we have characterized a critical resistance mechanism employed by primary AML cells under AMG 330-mediated proinflammatory conditions. Our results support the evaluation of checkpoint molecules in upcoming clinical trials with AMG 330 to enhance BiTE antibody construct-mediated cytotoxicity.

    View details for DOI 10.1038/leu.2015.214

    View details for PubMedID 26239198

  • Increase of PD-L1 expressing B-precursor ALL cells in a patient resistant to the CD19/CD3-bispecific T cell engager antibody blinatumomab. Journal of hematology & oncology Köhnke, T., Krupka, C., Tischer, J., Knösel, T., Subklewe, M. 2015; 8: 111


    The bispecific T cell engager blinatumomab has shown encouraging clinical activity in B-precursor acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL). However, about half of relapsed/refractory patients do not respond to therapy. Here, we present the case of a 32-year-old male patient with refractory B-precursor ALL who was resistant to treatment with blinatumomab. Bone marrow immunohistochemistry revealed T cell infiltrates and an increase in programmed death-ligand 1 (PD-L1)-positive ALL cells as a potential immune escape mechanism. We were able to recapitulate the clinical observation in vitro by showing that blinatumomab was not able to mediate cytotoxicity of CD19-positive ALL cells using autologous T cells. In contrast, the addition of healthy donor T cells led to lysis of ALL cells.These results strongly encourage further systematic evaluation of checkpoint molecules in cases of blinatumomab treatment failure and might highlight a possible mechanism to overcome resistance to this otherwise highly effective treatment.

    View details for DOI 10.1186/s13045-015-0213-6

    View details for PubMedID 26449653

    View details for PubMedCentralID PMC4599591

  • Virus infection in HLA-haploidentical hematopoietic stem cell transplantation: incidence in the context of immune recovery in two different transplantation settings. Annals of hematology Tischer, J., Engel, N., Fritsch, S., Prevalsek, D., Hubmann, M., Schulz, C., Zoellner, A. K., Bücklein, V., Reibke, R., Mumm, F., Rieger, C. T., Hill, W., Ledderose, G., Stemmler, H. J., Köhnke, T., Jäger, G., Kolb, H. J., Schmid, C., Moosmann, A., Hausmann, A. 2015; 94 (10): 1677-88


    We retrospectively compared the incidence of virus infections and outcome in the context of immune reconstitution in two different HLA-haploidentical transplantation (haplo-HSCT) settings. The first was a combined T-cell-replete and T-cell-deplete approach using antithymocyte globulin (ATG) prior to transplantation in patients with hematological diseases (cTCR/TCD group, 28 patients; median age 31 years). The second was a T-cell-replete (TCR) approach using high-dose posttransplantation cyclophosphamide (TCR/PTCY group, 27 patients; median age 43 years). The incidence of herpesvirus infection was markedly lower in the TCR/PTCY (22 %) than in the cTCR/TCD group (93 %). Recovery of CD4+ T cells on day +100 was faster in the TCR/PTCY group. CMV reactivation was 30 % in the TCR/PTCY compared to 57 % in the cTCR/TCD group, and control with antiviral treatment was superior after TCR/PTCY transplantation (100 vs 50 % cTCR/TCD). Twenty-five percent of the patients in the cTCR/TCD group but no patient in the TCR/PTCY group developed PTLD. While 1-year OS was not different (TCR/PTCY 59 % vs cTCR/TCD 39 %; p = 0.28), virus infection-related mortality (VIRM) was significantly lower after TCR/PTCY transplantation (1-year VIRM, 0 % TCR/PTCY vs 29 % cTCR/TCD; p = 0.009). On day +100, predictors of better OS were lymphocytes >300/μl, CD3+ T cells >200/μl, and CD4+ T cells >150/μl, whereas the application of steroids >1 mg/kg was correlated with worse outcome. Our results suggest that by presumably preserving antiviral immunity and allowing fast immune recovery of CD4+ T cells, the TCR approach using posttransplantation cyclophosphamide is well suited to handle the important issue of herpesvirus infection after haplo-HSCT.

    View details for DOI 10.1007/s00277-015-2423-y

    View details for PubMedID 26055139

  • Immunotherapy for Acute Myeloid Leukemia. Seminars in hematology Lichtenegger, F. S., Krupka, C., Köhnke, T., Subklewe, M. 2015; 52 (3): 207-14


    Despite longstanding efforts in basic research and clinical studies, the prognosis for patients with acute myeloid leukemia (AML) remains poor. About half of the patients are not medically fit for intensive induction therapy to induce a complete remission and are treated with palliative treatment concepts. The patients medically fit for intensive induction therapy have a high complete remission rate but the majority suffers from relapse due to chemo-refractory leukemic cells. Allogeneic stem cell transplantation as post-remission therapy can significantly reduce the likelihood of relapse, but it is associated with a high rate of morbidity and mortality. Novel therapeutic concepts are therefore urgently sought after. During recent years, the focus has shifted towards the development of novel immunotherapeutic strategies. Some of the most promising are drug-conjugated monoclonal antibodies, T-cell engaging antibody constructs, adoptive transfer with chimeric antigen receptor (CAR) T cells, and dendritic cell vaccination. Here, we review recent progress in these four fields and speculate about the optimal time points during the course of AML treatment for their application.

    View details for DOI 10.1053/j.seminhematol.2015.03.006

    View details for PubMedID 26111468

  • Early assessment of minimal residual disease in AML by flow cytometry during aplasia identifies patients at increased risk of relapse. Leukemia Köhnke, T., Sauter, D., Ringel, K., Hoster, E., Laubender, R. P., Hubmann, M., Bohlander, S. K., Kakadia, P. M., Schneider, S., Dufour, A., Sauerland, M. C., Berdel, W. E., Büchner, T., Wörmann, B., Braess, J., Hiddemann, W., Spiekermann, K., Subklewe, M. 2015; 29 (2): 377-86


    In acute myeloid leukemia (AML), assessment of minimal residual disease (MRD) by flow cytometry (flow MRD) after induction and consolidation therapy has been shown to provide independent prognostic information. However, data on the value of earlier flow MRD assessment are lacking. Therefore, the value of flow MRD detection was determined during aplasia in 178 patients achieving complete remission after treatment according to AMLCG (AML Cooperative Group) induction protocols. Flow MRD positivity during aplasia predicted poor outcome (5-year relapse-free survival (RFS) 16% vs 43%, P<0.001) independently from age and cytogenetic risk group (hazard ratio for MRD positivity 1.71; P=0.009). Importantly, the prognosis of patients without detectable MRD was neither impacted by morphological blast count during aplasia nor by MRD status postinduction. Early flow MRD was also evaluated in the context of existing risk factors. Flow MRD was prognostic within the intermediate cytogenetic risk group (5-year RFS 15% vs 37%, P=0.016) as well as for patients with normal karyotype and NPM1 mutations (5-year RFS 13% vs 49%, P=0.02) or FLT3-ITD (3-year RFS rates 9% vs 44%, P=0.016). Early flow MRD assessment can improve current risk stratification approaches by prediction of RFS in AML and might facilitate adaptation of postremission therapy for patients at high risk of relapse.

    View details for DOI 10.1038/leu.2014.186

    View details for PubMedID 24912430

  • Molecular response assessment by quantitative real-time polymerase chain reaction after induction therapy in NPM1-mutated patients identifies those at high risk of relapse. Haematologica Hubmann, M., Köhnke, T., Hoster, E., Schneider, S., Dufour, A., Zellmeier, E., Fiegl, M., Braess, J., Bohlander, S. K., Subklewe, M., Sauerland, M. C., Berdel, W. E., Büchner, T., Wörmann, B., Hiddemann, W., Spiekermann, K. 2014; 99 (8): 1317-25


    Monitoring minimal residual disease is an important way to identify patients with acute myeloid leukemia at high risk of relapse. In this study we investigated the prognostic potential of minimal residual disease monitoring by quantitative real-time polymerase chain reaction analysis of NPM1 mutations in patients treated in the AMLCG 1999, 2004 and 2008 trials. Minimal residual disease was monitored - in aplasia, after induction therapy, after consolidation therapy, and during follow-up - in 588 samples from 158 patients positive for NPM1 mutations A, B and D (with a sensitivity of 10(-6)). One hundred and twenty-seven patients (80.4%) achieved complete remission after induction therapy and, of these, 56 patients (44.1%) relapsed. At each checkpoint, minimal residual disease cut-offs were calculated. After induction therapy a cut-off NPM1 mutation ratio of 0.01 was associated with a high hazard ratio of 4.26 and the highest sensitivity of 76% for the prediction of relapse. This was reflected in a cumulative incidence of relapse after 2 years of 77.8% for patients with ratios above the cut-off versus 26.4% for those with ratios below the cut-off. In the favorable subgroup according to European LeukemiaNet, the cut-off after induction therapy also separated the cohort into two prognostic groups with a cumulative incidence of relapse of 76% versus 6% after 2 years. Our data demonstrate that in addition to pre-therapeutic factors, the course of minimal residual disease in an individual is an important prognostic factor and could be included in clinical trials for the guidance of post-remission therapy. The trials from which data were obtained were registered at (#NCT01382147, #NCT00266136) and at the European Leukemia Trial Registry (#LN_AMLINT2004_230).

    View details for DOI 10.3324/haematol.2014.104133

    View details for PubMedID 24816240

    View details for PubMedCentralID PMC4116830

  • CD33 target validation and sustained depletion of AML blasts in long-term cultures by the bispecific T-cell-engaging antibody AMG 330. Blood Krupka, C., Kufer, P., Kischel, R., Zugmaier, G., Bögeholz, J., Köhnke, T., Lichtenegger, F. S., Schneider, S., Metzeler, K. H., Fiegl, M., Spiekermann, K., Baeuerle, P. A., Hiddemann, W., Riethmüller, G., Subklewe, M. 2014; 123 (3): 356-65


    Antibody-based immunotherapy represents a promising strategy to target and eliminate chemoresistant leukemic cells. Here, we evaluated the CD33/CD3-bispecific T cell engaging (BiTE) antibody (AMG 330) for its suitability as a therapeutic agent in acute myeloid leukemia (AML). We first assessed CD33 expression levels by flow cytometry and found expression in >99% of patient samples (n = 621). CD33 was highest expressed in AMLs with NPM1 mutations (P < .001) and lower in AMLs with complex karyotypes and t(8;21) translocations (P < .001). Furthermore, leukemic stem cells within the CD34(+)/CD38(-) compartment displayed CD33 at higher levels than healthy donor stem cells (P = .047). In MS-5 feeder cell-based long-term cultures that supported the growth of primary AML blasts for up to 36 days, AMG 330 efficiently recruited and expanded residual CD3(+)/CD45RA(-)/CCR7(+) memory T cells within the patient sample. Even at low effector to target ratios, the recruited T cells lysed autologous blasts completely in the majority of samples and substantially in the remaining samples in a time-dependent manner. This study provides the first correlation of CD33 expression levels with AML genotype in a comprehensive analysis of adult patients. Targeting CD33 ex vivo using AMG 330 in primary AML samples led to T cell recruitment and expansion and remarkable antibody-mediated cytotoxicity, suggesting efficient therapeutic potential in vivo.

    View details for DOI 10.1182/blood-2013-08-523548

    View details for PubMedID 24300852

  • Acetylsalicylic Acid reduces the severity of dextran sodium sulfate-induced colitis and increases the formation of anti-inflammatory lipid mediators. BioMed research international Köhnke, T., Gomolka, B., Bilal, S., Zhou, X., Sun, Y., Rothe, M., Baumgart, D. C., Weylandt, K. H. 2013; 2013: 748160


    The role of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs in inflammatory bowel disease is controversial, as they have been implicated in disease aggravation. Different from other cyclooxygenase inhibitors, acetylsalicylic acid (ASA) enhances the formation of anti-inflammatory and proresolution lipoxins derived from arachidonic acid as well as resolvins from omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids such as docosahexaenoic acid (DHA). In this study, we examined the effect of ASA on murine dextran sodium sulfate colitis. A mouse magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) protocol and post mortem assessment were used to assess disease severity, and lipid metabolites were measured using liquid chromatography-coupled tandem mass spectrometry. Decreased colitis activity was demonstrated by phenotype and MRI assessment in mice treated with ASA, and confirmed in postmortem analysis. Analysis of lipid mediators showed sustained formation of lipoxin A4 and an increase of DHA-derived 17-hydroxydocosahexaenoic acid (17-HDHA) after treatment with ASA. Furthermore, in vitro experiments in RAW264.7 murine macrophages demonstrated significantly increased phagocytosis activity after incubation with 17-HDHA, supporting its proresolution effect. These results show a protective effect of ASA in a murine colitis model and could give a rationale for a careful reassessment of ASA therapy in patients with inflammatory bowel disease and particularly ulcerative colitis, possibly combined with DHA supplementation.

    View details for DOI 10.1155/2013/748160

    View details for PubMedID 24083240

    View details for PubMedCentralID PMC3780524

  • Kinetics of CEA and CA15-3 correlate with treatment response in patients undergoing chemotherapy for metastatic breast cancer (MBC). Tumour biology : the journal of the International Society for Oncodevelopmental Biology and Medicine Di Gioia, D., Heinemann, V., Nagel, D., Untch, M., Kahlert, S., Bauerfeind, I., Koehnke, T., Stieber, P. 2011; 32 (4): 777-85


    The aim of this retrospective analysis is to determine the correlation between tumour marker kinetics (TMK) like carcinoembryonic antigen (CEA) and/or cancer antigen (CA) 15-3 and imaging concerning effectiveness of chemotherapy in metastatic breast cancer (MBC) patients. TMK (CEA, AxSYM, Abbott; CA15-3, Elecsys, Roche) were evaluated in MBC patients (n=77) at the beginning of chemotherapy (pre-treatment value=A), after 20-30 days (first intermediate value=B), after 40-60 days (second intermediate value=C) and at the time the effectiveness of chemotherapy was evaluated with imaging (D). Response to treatment was assessed by standard WHO criteria criteria. For the assessment of biochemical progression and response, four criteria based on TMK were established. The first criterion of progression required that there was an increase ≥ 25% after 40-60 days (C) and the slope per day from B to C exceeds the slope from A to B. The second criterion of progression required that, at the time of staging, the value be ≥ 25% of the pre-treatment value (A), and also, increasing values from C until staging (D) were required. The first criterion of response required that the second intermediate value (C) be decreased by ≥ 25% compared to A (pre-treatment value) and C be lower than B (first intermediate value). The second criterion of response required that D be ≤ 25% of B and D be lower than C. Fifty-four (70%) patients showed a correlation between TMK and imaging results during chemotherapy. In 10 (13%) patients, no correlation was obtained, and in 13 (17%) patients, no biochemical statement was possible because of divergent TMK. In summary, after 1 month, no statement about treatment response was possible by using TMK. The effectiveness or ineffectiveness of treatment could be determined correctly in 40% of patients after 2 months and in 70% of patients after approximately 3 months. The data presented support the hypothesis that TMK are clinically relevant tools to monitor treatment response. Further improvements on their sensitivity can be probably achieved by a prospective study design and by combining with other biomarkers like CA-125 and HER2 shed antigen.

    View details for DOI 10.1007/s13277-011-0180-7

    View details for PubMedID 21553235

  • Reduction of inflammation and chronic tissue damage by omega-3 fatty acids in fat-1 transgenic mice with pancreatitis. Biochimica et biophysica acta Weylandt, K. H., Nadolny, A., Kahlke, L., Köhnke, T., Schmöcker, C., Wang, J., Lauwers, G. Y., Glickman, J. N., Kang, J. X. 2008; 1782 (11): 634-41


    Pancreatitis is a severe debilitating disease with high morbidity and mortality. Treatment is mostly supportive, and until now there are no clinically useful strategies for anti-inflammatory therapy. Although omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids (n-3 PUFA) are known to have anti-inflammatory effects, the utility of these fatty acids in the alleviation of pancreatitis remained to be investigated. The aim of this study was to examine the effect of n-3 PUFA on both acute and chronic pancreatitis in a well-controlled experimental system. We used the fat-1 transgenic mouse model, characterized by endogenously increased tissue levels of n-3 PUFA, and their wild-type littermates to examine the effect of n-3 PUFA on both acute and chronic cerulein-induced pancreatitis. Disease activity and inflammatory status were assessed by both histology and molecular methods. In acute pancreatitis, fat-1 mice showed a trend towards decreased necrosis and significantly reduced levels of plasma IL-6 levels as well as reduced neutrophil infiltration in the lung. In chronic pancreatitis there was less pancreatic fibrosis and collagen content accompanied by decreased pancreatic stellate cell activation in the fat-1 animals with increased n-3 PUFA tissue levels as compared to wild-type littermates with high levels of omega-6 (n-6) PUFA in their tissues. Our data provide evidence for a reduction of systemic inflammation in acute pancreatitis and of tissue fibrosis in chronic pancreatitis by increasing the tissue content of omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids. These results suggest a beneficial potential for n-3 PUFA supplementation in acute and particularly chronic pancreatitis.

    View details for DOI 10.1016/j.bbadis.2008.08.011

    View details for PubMedID 18832028

    View details for PubMedCentralID PMC2614880