PM.20.017 – Image-guided immune system stimulation

Route: Personalised medicine: the individual at the centre

Cluster question: 104 How do we develop minimally invasive techniques and interventions for diagnosis, prognosis, and treatment?

Immunotherapy by means of immune checkpoint inhibition has led to remarkable advances in cancer therapy, and has substantially improved clinical outcomes for specific cancer types. However, Immune checkpoint modulation currently only benefits a small percentage of patients with cancer. New immunotherapeutic targets are currently tested and combinations with other cancer treatments are being explored, including local tumor ablative treatments like radiotherapy. Locoregional non-and minimally invasive physical methods, based on electromagnetic or mechanical waves, as well as various heating and cryogenic methods, have received increasing attention because of their potential to enhance immune responses.
The overall aim is to improve immunotherapy treatment in individual patients by triggering in situ the release of an unbiased range of tumor antigens and danger associated molecular patterns using image-guided non- and minimally invasive physical methods in order to decrease tumor load and potentiate the individual’s anti-tumor immune response. This personalized immune combination therapy approach should lead to anti-cancer immune stimulation and will be guided by extensive imaging and immune monitoring. The project will include preclinical studies on animal models with non-immunogenic tumors, as well as Phase 1 clinical translation of the most promising approaches.

For this purpose we will i) combine immunotherapy with different image-guided locoregional physical methods with special attention to innovative MRI-guided Radiotherapy and MRI guided High Intensity Focused Ultrasound. The goal is to specifically optimize these MR-guided ablation therapies for immune stimulation (and not for maximum ablation effect as they are used at present) and ii) to evaluate their effects by longitudinal MR-imaging of the tumor during treatment and by monitoring the distribution of immune cells in blood and tumor tissue as well as the distribution and pharmacokinetics of immune checkpoint drugs.


Anti-cancer vaccination, Checkpoint inhibition, Immune stimulation

Other organisations

Radboud Medical Center (RUMC)


Organisation UMC Utrecht (UMCU)
Name Prof.dr. C.T.W. (Chrit) Moonen