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Allogeneic Transplantation and Immunotherapy: From Bench to Bedside


Admission requirements

  • Sufficient knowledge of Immunology is required (comparable to the Immunology course in the BSc Biomedical Sciences Leiden).

  • Successful completion of How To Write A Research Proposal is strongly recommended.

  • Students who passed the half minor Immunotherapy of Cancer in BSc, are discouraged to follow the FOS course.


The course will give detailed insight into clinical and research aspects of allogeneic stem cell transplantation to treat leukemia and other hematological malignancies. In allogeneic stem cell transplantation, an immune system from a healthy donor is transplanted into the patient with the aim to induce an effective immune response against the tumor cells. The tumor cells of the patient are foreign for the transplanted donor derived immune system and will be attacked. Unfortunately, the tumor cells are not the only foreign cells and also healthy tissues of the patient can be targeted, which may lead to severe side effects and a life threatening complication known as Graft-versus-Host Disease. An optimal balance between desired anti-tumor immunity and undesired side effects is thus highly relevant to improve overall survival, quality of life and use of allogeneic stem cell transplantation to treat leukemia and other hematological malignancies.
Students will be introduced into different aspects by lectures given by experts in the field followed by self-study assignments, which will be discussed in workgroups. Students will be trained in critical reading of recently published research papers and will practice in oral presentations and participation in discussions. Students will attend patient demonstrations, visit the outpatient clinic as well as diagnostic and research laboratories of the department of Hematology. Students will write a newspaper article and small reports on the experiments performed in the diagnostic and research laboratories. The course will be finished with a written exam consisting of a number of questions in which insight into working mechanisms of allogeneic stem cell transplantation and cellular therapies is tested.

Students will be introduced into the following aspects of allogeneic hematopoietic stem cell transplantation:

  • Normal hematopoiesis, leukemia and other hematological malignancies and their treatment modalities.

  • Transplantation of an immune system from a healthy donor into a cancer patient (allo-immunity); the desired anti-tumor effect and undesired complications known as graft versus host disease.

  • Use and manipulation of donor T lymphocytes to treat leukemia and other hematological malignancies in transplanted patients.

  • Donor T lymphocytes recognizing antigens in transplanted patients (allo-reactive T cells); characterization of allo-reactive T cells and their HLA-binding targets.

  • Interactions between leukemic cells and the immune system, donor selection and graft versus host disease.

  • Therapeutic antibodies to treat leukemia and other hematological malignancies in transplanted patients..

  • Production and use of cellular therapy to treat leukemia and other hematological malignancies.

  • Gene therapy with chimeric antigen receptors and T cell receptors as cellular anti-tumor therapy.

This course will particularly work on:
Research competences:
defining a research question, study-design, choice of appropriate techniques, integration of different biomedical disciplines, knowledge of literature and methods, interpretation of results.
Professional competences:
team-work; participation in discussions; use of language; clarity, consistency and transparency in presentations; knowledge of literature and application of this knowledge, developing creativity by combining different perspectives.

Course objectives

  • Explain the basic concepts of allogeneic stem cell transplantation to treat leukemia and other hematological malignancies.

  • Consider benefits and treats of different treatment protocols for allogeneic stem cell transplantation.

  • Relate the type of antigens and immunological responses as exploited by immunotherapy to evaluate clinical benefits and treats after allogeneic stem cell transplantation.

  • Compare different immunotherapies, evaluate their benefits and threats and propose improvements.

  • Translate the main message of a novel immunotherapy to a lay audience in the form of a newspaper article.

Mode of instruction

Lectures, self-study assignments, work-groups

Assessment method

Students will be assessed for oral presentations (25%), participations in discussions, newspaper article (15%) and written exam (60%).

Exam date

  • November 17th, 2017.