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CAR NK cell development

Natural killer (NK) cells are potent effector lymphocytes with cytotoxic effect against several malignancies.

​We consider that their potency and usefulness could be further improved if they were targeted to tumors using CARs and if they could be produced in large numbers. 


Docent Matti Korhonen, MD

Docent Matti Korhonen’s background is in pediatrics, with 10 years’ clinical experience in pediatric hemato-oncology and stem cell transplantation. His research converges on the development and clinical translation of cell therapies. The Advanced Cell Therapy Center (at the Finnish Red Cross Blood Service) was set up under his leadership in 2009-12. He also led the development and clinical translation of its first cell therapy product, mesenchymal stem cells (Salmenniemi et al, Br Med J 2017). 

Currently Dr. Korhonen’s research team focuses on the genetic modification of immune cells for cancer therapy, where they have explored novel culture conditions for CAR T-cells, combining CAR T-cells with small molecule drugs, and developed proprietary chimeric antigen receptors.

Helka Göös, PhD

Helka received her MSc and BSc degrees from the University of Eastern Finland in 2011. During her master´s thesis she was studying the nuclear receptor signaling, especially signaling of the vitamin D receptor. After that she moved to Helsinki to do her PhD under the supervision of docent Markku Varjosalo in the Systems Biology research group and Proteomics Unit of Institute of Biotechnology, University of Helsinki. The aim of her PhD thesis was to study the protein-protein interactions of human transcription factors. Her thesis also included characterization of the molecular mechanisms behind primary immunodeficiencies caused by transcription factor mutations. 

Helka’s current project as post-doctoral researcher in iCell is the development of CAR NK-cells. The future aim is to develop CAR NK-cells targeting solid tumors. 

Mira Pasanen, MSc

Mira is a PhD student at the Finnish Red Cross Blood Service and at the University of Eastern Finland. She received her BSc and MSc from the University of Jyväskylä, majoring in Cell and Molecular Biology. Her Bachelor’s thesis focused on bacteriophage therapy and Master’s thesis on monoamine oxidase B inhibition. She started her PhD studies in Seppo Ylä-Herttuala’s group at the University of Eastern Finland, where she developed novel universal CAR T-cell therapy products against solid tumors. 

Currently Mira is located at the Blood Service where she works in a joint research project, aiming to develop CAR NK-cells for cancer immunotherapies.

Emmi Tiilikainen, MSc

Emmi is a biomedical engineer with a background in stem cell and lymphatics research. She did her engineering thesis from 3D cultured intestinal stem cells and master’s thesis on the endothelial cell arrangement of lymphatic networks. In iCell, she works as a research technician in the NK and CAR-NK projects.