K.G. Jebsen Centre for Cancer Immunotherapy 

When the immune system is unable to fight cancer, the main problem is that the immune system does not perceive the cancer cells as alien. The KG Jebsen Centre for Cancer Immunotherapy plans to utilise new strategies to do something about this.

Our immune system is unsurpassed as regards combating infections. The immune cells recognise microbes and infected cells as alien and kill them efficiently without damaging normal cells. Cancer is more problematic because, in many cases, the immune system will ignore the cancer cells or even actively tolerate them. This centre will use new technology to manipulate the immune system to kill cancer cells as efficiently as virus-infected cells.

It has been known for many years that the immune system rejects organs that are transplanted from other people. The research carried out by members of this centre indicates that such rejection reactions can be use in cancer treatment. They have succeeded in selecting immune cells from healthy individuals that reject cancer cells from another person. This opens for the possibility of transferring such selected immune cells to the patient’s blood. There, they are expected to act as guided missiles that bombard the tumour, but spare healthy cells. An exciting alternative is the copy and paste principle, where genes from immune cells are copied in one individual and ‘pasted’ into the patient’s own ones.

In recent years, it has become clear that the immune system has brakes that prevent it from attacking cancer. A new treatment has been introduced, for example for malignant melanoma, which consists of blocking the brakes. Researchers at this centre are working to find new points to attack in the brakes. they are now in the process of testing medicines that may be more effective than those currently available.

One of the researchers at the centre is an oncologist and specialist in the treatment of lymphatic cancer. He has led a study in which one of the patient’s tumours in treated in such a way that the immune system perceives the condition as an infection. After that, cells are injected that are specialised in stimulating immune responses. This has led to full remission of the disease in several patients.

Funding from the Foundation has enabled six research groups at the University of Oslo, Oslo University Hospital and the Netherlands Cancer Institute to unite their expertise and focus their work on a common goal. The head of the centre, Johanna Olweus, says that this presents completely new possibilities for achieving the ambition of exploiting the power and precision of the immune system in the fight against cancer.

Group leaders:

Johanna Olweus (senterleder)
Professor OUS, Radiumhospitalet and UiO.

Karl Johan Malmberg (deputy leader)
Professor, OUS- Radiumhospitalet and UiO.

Arne Kolstad
Consultant dr. med. OUS-Radiumhospitalet.

Kjetil Taskén
Professor, UiO and OUH.

Fridtjof Lund-Johansen
Researcher,  OUH and Rikshospitalet.

Ton Schumacher
Professor, The Netherlands Cancer Research Institute, Amsterdam, Nederland.

The centre in brief:

Leader: Johanna Olweus
Start up: 2013
Host institution: University of Oslo
Funding: 16 MNOK
Home page: K.G. Jebsen-senter for immunterapi mot kreft

Contact information:

Visiting address:
Seksjon for immunologi, Institutt for kreftforskning
Oslo Universitetssykehus Radiumhospitalet
Ullernchaussèen 70
Forskningsbygget. 2. og 3. etg.

Postal address:
Oslo Universitetessykehus Radiumhospitalet
Ullernchauséen 70
0310 Oslo

News from Stiftelsen Kristian Gerhard Jebsen