Research

The aim of our research is to find signatures in thoracic malignancies in order to identify novel therapeutic targets and tools for disease-activity monitoring. Further, we aim to achieve novel insights regarding thoracic diseases given by large database studies.

Translational lung cancer research

Lead: Laura Mäkinen

One of our flagship projects include circulating tumor DNA (ctDNA) sample collection and analysis, with optimizing tumor tissue procurement from patients with small cell or advanced non-small cell lung cancers. This special emphasis allows us to generate more real-life scenarios for the targets in early diagnosis, treatment response prediction, and disease-activity monitoring. Moreover, we will execute a living biobank from these tissue samples and establish lung organoid models to study the drug sensitivity of these cancers with novel therapeutic agents. With systematic approach to these objectives utilizing large hospital system, our aim is to develop one of the largest platforms for lung cancer research that can be applied for patient care.

Malignant pleural mesothelioma – Tumor microenvironment and interactions

Lead: Hely Ollila

We have expertise in malignant pleural mesothelioma research, with special emphasis on biobank derived tissue sample studies. With multiplexed fluorescence immunohistochemistry and digital image analysis, new potential targets for optimized diagnostic processes and novel treatment strategies are searched for. In addition, by deriving tumor cells and fibroblasts from mesothelioma patients’ pleural fluids, we can test novel drugs with systemic drug-screening and investigate the role of the tumor microenvironment in individual drug responses. With national registry data, we are also able to obtain information regarding environmental asbestos exposure and workers compensation insurance payouts.

Esophageal cancer: the role of induction therapy response to ctDNA, and correlations for pathologic response rate

Lead: Tommi Järvinen

Our aim in esophageal cancer is to pivot experiences in lung cancer research for treatment follow up by using circulating tumor DNA (ctDNA) and scaling living biobank project with patients undergoing induction chemotherapy for esophageal adenocarcinoma. We aim to establish organoid portfolio that can be utilized in various manners in drug discovery and optimizing drug delivery – as organoids can be compared before and after induction therapy. Also, results can be adjusted for initial pathologic treatment response rate following induction therapy. With ctDNA we are able to monitor diseaseactivity and possible recurrence following first line treatment.

Mixed Thoracic Diseases and database

Our aim is to identify rare thoracic diseases independently from national and local records, that both are reliable sources particularly for this purpose. The diseases that will be identified from these records include Zenker’s Diverticulum, Achalasia, Pulmonary Carcinoid tumors and Neuroendocrine tumors of the esophagus. We have utilized database research significantly in our previous research project, which aims to gain new insight to disease epidemiology and real-life treatment modalities.