Gynecological Tumors

 

Principal Investigators

 

PD Dr. Simone Münst

Email | LinkedIn | ORCID

 

Dr. Tatjana Vlajnic

Email | LinkedIn | ORCID

 
 

Group Members

 

Fabienne Baur

 

Kavitha Daester

 
 

Our Science

Our research group mainly focuses on breast and gynecological cancer translational research. We have assembled a team of investigators and are closely working with our clinical colleagues to advance knowledge in the following topics:

 
 

Predictive and prognostic biomarkers in breast cancer

Breast cancer is the most frequent cancer type in woman, with one in eight women being diagnosed with breast cancer during her lifetime.

We are working on multiple projects investigating breast cancer biomarkers and their impact on clinical outcome, always with the aim for better patient stratification and treatment.  We have successfully identified several new prognostic markers expressed by breast cancer cells or by tumor infiltrating lymphocytes. One focus of our research is the tumor microenvironment in breast cancer and specifically the PD-1/PD-L1 pathway. We are investigating the prognostic role of these immune checkpoints in a large breast cancer collective. In addition, we have also cultured breast cancer tissue ex vivo in perfusion bioreactors and use this tissue to test novel therapeutic substances such as checkpoint-inhibitors. A second focus of our research lies on the molecular classification of pre-malignant breast tissue through next generation sequencing and gene expression analysis. With these methods, we aim to identify patients at risk for developing subsequent breast cancer.

Additionally, we are also employing new techniques such as methylation analysis to classify rare breast tumors and to investigate breast cancer metastatic tissue.

 

Endometrial cancer research

Based on biological and clinical characteristics, endometrial cancer is classified into type 1 and type 2. Whereas some histological subtypes, such as serous and clear cell endometrial carcinoma, are easily recognized as prototypes of the type 2 aggressive carcinomas, a subgroup of endometrioid type carcinomas are difficult to categorize with regard to their clinical behavior based on morphology alone. We are investigating molecular mechanisms that might help further stratify this subgroup of “moderately differentiated” endometrial carcinoma and identify patients who are at higher risk for progression. L1 cell adhesion molecule (L1CAM) is involved in tumor progression and L1CAM expression in endometrial carcinoma is associated with aggressive clinical behavior.  Our research focuses on identifying a combination of biomarkers, including L1CAM, to optimize personalized treatment strategies.  

 

Selected Publications

Current

  • Jackson HW, Fischer JR, Zanotelli VRT, Ali HR, Mechera R, Soysal SD, Moch H, Muenst S, Varga Z, Weber WP, Bodenmiller B. The single-cell pathology landscape of breast cancer.  Nature. 2020 Feb;578(7796):615-620. doi: 10.1038/s41586-019-1876-x. Epub 2020 Jan 20. PMID: 31959985 
  • Jehanno C, Fernandez-Calero T, Habauzit D, Avner S, Percevault F, Jullion E, Le Goff P, Coissieux MM, Muenst S, Marin M, Michel D, Métivier R, Flouriot G Nuclear accumulation of MKL1 in luminal breast cancer cells impairs genomic activity of ERα and is associated with endocrine resistance. Biochim Biophys Acta Gene Regul Mech. 2020 May;1863(5):194507. doi: 10.1016/j.bbagrm.2020.194507. Epub 2020 Feb 27. PMID: 32113984 
  • Ritter M, Paradiso V, Widmer P, Garofoli A, Quagliata L, Eppenberger-Castori S, Soysal SD, Muenst S, Ng CKY, Piscuoglio S, Weber W, Weber WP. Identification of Somatic Mutations in Thirty-year-old Serum Cell-free DNA From Patients With Breast Cancer: A Feasibility Study. Clin Breast Cancer. 2020 May 6:S1526-8209(20)30083-5. doi: 10.1016/j.clbc.2020.04.005. 
  • Haefliger S, Muenst S, Went P, Bihl M, Dellas S, Weber WP, Vlajnic T. Tall cell carcinoma of the breast with reversed polarity (TCCRP) with mutations in the IDH2 and PIK3CA genes: a case report. Mol Biol Rep. 2020 Jun;47(6):4917-4921
  • Soysal SD, Ng CKY, Costa L, Weber WP, Paradiso V, Piscuoglio S, Muenst S. Genetic Alterations in Benign Breast Biopsies of Subsequent Breast Cancer Patients. Front Med. 2019 Jul 24;6:166.
  • Zeindler J, Soysal SD, Piscuoglio S, Ng CKY, Mechera R, Isaak A, Weber WP, Muenst S, Kurzeder C. Nectin-4 Expression Is an Independent Prognostic Biomarker and Associated With Better Survival in Triple-Negative Breast Cancer. Front Med. 2019 Sep 13;6:200.
  • Zeindler J, Angehrn F, Droeser R, Däster S, Piscuoglio S, Ng CKY, Kilic E, Mechera R, Meili S, Isaak A, Weber WP, Muenst S, Soysal SD. Infiltration by myeloperoxidase-positive neutrophils is an independent prognostic factor in breast cancer. Breast Cancer Res Treat. 2019 177(3):581-589
  • Mechera R, Soysal SD, Piscuoglio S, Ng CKY, Zeindler J, Mujagic E, Däster S, Glauser P, Hoffmann H, Kilic E, Droeser RA, Weber WP, Muenst S. Expression of RET is associated with Oestrogen receptor expression but lacks prognostic significance in breast cancer. BMC Cancer. 2019 8;19(1):41
  • Baettig F, Vlajnic T, Vetter M, Glatz K, Hench J, Frank S, Bihl M, Lopez R, Dobbie M, Heinzelmann-Schwarz V, Montavon C. Nivolumab in chemotherapy-resistant cervical cancer: report of a vulvitis as a novel immune-related adverse event and molecular analysis of a persistent complete response. J Immunother Cancer. 2019 7(1):281
  • D'Amico L, Menzel U, Prummer M, Müller P, Buchi M, Kashyap A, Haessler U, Yermanos A, Gébleux R, Briendl M, Hell T, Wolter FI, Beerli RR, Truxova I, Radek Š, Vlajnic T, Grawunder U, Reddy S, Zippelius A. A novel anti-HER2 anthracycline-based antibody-drug conjugate induces adaptive anti-tumor immunity and potentiates PD-1 blockade in breast cancer. J Immunother Cancer. 2019 7(1):16
  • Montagna G, Ng CKY, Vlajnic T, Paradiso V, Dellas S, Reina H, Kind A, Weber WP, Piscuoglio S, Kurzeder C. Fibroepithelial Breast Lesion: When Sequencing Can Help to Make a Clinical Decision. A Case Report. Clin Breast Cancer. 2019 19(1):e1-e6

Earlier

  • Muraro MG, Muenst S, Mele V, Quagliata L, Iezzi G, Tzankov A, Weber WP, Spagnoli G, Soysal SD. Ex-vivo assessment of drug response on breast cancer primary tissue with preserved microenvironments. OncoImmunology. 2017 6(7) :e1331798
  • Muenst S, Schaerli AR, Gao F, Däster S, Trella E, Droeser RA, Muraro MG, Zajac P, Zanetti R, Gillanders WE, Weber WP, Soysal SD. Expression of programmed death ligand 1 (PD-L1) is associated with poor prognosis in human breast cancer. Breast Cancer Res Treat. 2014 146(1):15-24
  • Muenst S, Soysal SD, Gao F, Obermann EC, Oertli D, Gillanders WE. The presence of programmed death 1 (PD-1)-positive tumor-infiltrating lymphocytes is associated with poor prognosis in human breast cancer. Breast Cancer Res Treat. 2013 139(3):667-76.
 

Awards and Grants

  • Swiss Cancer League
  • Krebsliga beider Basel
  • Claudia von Schilling Research Foundation
  • Domarena Foundation
  • Parrotia Foundation