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Research Areas of the AG Priv.-Doz. Dr. med. Leo Hansmann

  • Tumor immunology
  • Infection immunology
  • Lymphocyte differentiation and function
  • Single cell technologies

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Description of our research

Technology schematic for phenotypic tracking of single molecularly defined B-lineage clones in multiple myeloma bone marrow (A) Single B-lineage cells identified by CD19 and CD38 characteristics from multiple myeloma bone marrow were index sorted into 96-well plates using a 13-parameter FACS panel. Single-cell light chain mRNA was reverse transcribed, amplified, barcoded, and sequenced. In parallel, FACS data were visualized as t-SNE maps and single monoclonal B-lineage cells of the predominant clone were mapped onto the t-SNE plots (black) to visualize their phenotypic distribution. Published in Hansmann et al. Cancer Immunol Res, 2017

We study the human immune system with a focus on T and B cell biology in the context of solid and hematopoietic malignancies. We are especially interested in the cues that drive clonal lymphocyte expansion and how malignancies can evade cellular immune responses. Our single cell technologies for T cell receptor and immunoglobulin sequencing in combination with high-dimensional phenotyping and functional profiling give insights into specificities and functional states of thousands of single cells in a high-throughput fashion.

Our goal is to identify and understand cancer-directed immune responses in order to 

  1. develop supportive strategies to immunologically eradicate cancer.
  2. use these as highly sensitive and specific tumor markers.
  3. design targeted (cellular) therapeutics.

Another focus is the identification and recombinant expression of virus-specific T cell receptors for adoptive transfer in the setting of allogeneic stem cell transplantation and post-transplant lymphoproliferative disorders.

Research Projects

  • Clonal T/B cell development, expansion, differentiation, and functions in hematopoietic malignancies
  • Susceptibility of molecularly defined T cell clones to immune checkpoint inhibition 
  • Identification of clonal expansion of tumor-infiltrating and circulating T cells as molecular biomarkers in rectal cancer
  • T cell control of viral infections (EBV/CMV) in the setting of allogeneic stem cell transplantation
Immune phenotypes of clonally expanded T cells in aplastic anemia bone marrow (A) Sort gates (red) for index sorting of single bone marrow lymphocytes. Left and middle panel: Pre-gated on live single lymphocytes. Right panel: Pre-gated on live single TCRab+ lymphocytes. We index-sorted 92 TCRab+ (left panel), 184 TCRab+CD8+ (middle panel), and 92 TCRab+PD1+ (right panel) cells. (B) Combined sequencing and FACS data of single bone marrow T cells. Single T cells are arranged in columns. The top bar color-codes TCRab CDR3 amino acid sequences; adjacent columns with the same color indicate T cell clones. (C) Immune phenotypes of all clonally expanded and non-expanded cells are shown in conventional FACS plots. Published in Penter et al. Eur J Immunol, 2018