Immunotherapy has emerged as a new treatment modality for many cancer types. In order to successfully treat patients with immunotherapy, there is a need for increased knowledge in brain tumor immunology, especially for pediatric patients.
The overall prognosis of patients with primary malignant brain tumors has improved little over the last decades, despite improved radiotherapy, new surgical techniques and the recent addition of the chemotherapeutic agent temozolomide as standard treatment. In contrast to adult malignant brain tumors, pediatric malignant brain tumors are cured in many patients, but the side effects of chemo- and radiotherapy are still substantial. Thus, there is a need for novel therapies such as immunotherapy. It is increasingly clear that findings in adult brain tumors cannot readily be extrapolated to pediatric tumors, due to their differences in profound features such as tumor initiation and progression, genetic profiles, immune activation and therapeutic response. A major limitation of research in pediatric brain tumors is a general lack of experimental models, and the existing ones are poorly representative of the genetic diversity. For these reasons we have recently developed experimental models representing different pediatric brain tumor subtypes. The aim with this research program is to characterize interactions between the tumor and the immune system in children with brain tumors, and to investigate the prerequisites for immunotherapy in experimental models. The project will have important implications for the development and implementation of immunotherapy against pediatric brain tumors.