Dr. Nierkens is Principal Investigator of the Boelens/Nierkens research group and is head of the Utrecht center for Diagnostic Advances in Immunology Research, U-DAIR.
He received his PhD from the Utrecht University and was trained as a tumor-immunologist at the Tumor Immunology Laboratory of the RIMLS (Nijmegen, The Netherlands) and the La Jolla Institute for Allergy and Immunology (La Jolla, CA). He has long-standing experience in studying the role of dendritic cells (DC) and DC-vaccines in various pre-clinical immunotherapy models. In 2012 Nierkens translated his work on DC vaccines together with Jaap Jan Boelens resulting in the U-DANCE-project, in which he develops (adjuvant) immuno-therapies to make cord blood cell transplantation safer and more effective.
From 2012 he is the head of U-DAIR, an intramural immune monitoring laboratory of the Laboratory of Translational Immunology (LTI-UMCU) facilitating translational research in 30+ clinically well-defined cohorts of patients suffering from inflammatory and immune-mediated diseases. U-DAIR develops, optimizes and validates an immunomonitoring program to enable standardized cohort research and thereby identifies new biomarkers to diagnose immune-mediated disorders and explores potential treatment strategies. Nierkens was selected for a 36-month training program to become Laboratory Specialist in Medical Immunology.
- Immune Monitoring
- Dendritic cell vaccination after cord blood transplantation in AML
- Immunotherapy for Neuroblastoma
Current External Activities
- EATRIS Biomarker Platform member
- CIMT Immunoguiding Program member
- NVVI member
Personal Fellowships & Awards
KWF fellowship for fundamental and pre-clinical cancer research, Dutch Cancer Society.
ZonMW TAS (as PI): Development of a cord blood stem cell-derived anti-AML dendritic cell vaccine: Towards powerful "anti-AML immunity" after cord blood transplantation (2014 -2018): 1.4M Euro
Spel L, Boelens JJ, van der Steen DM, Blokland NJ, van Noesel MM, Molenaar JJ, Heemskerk MH, Boes M, Nierkens S. Natural killer cells facilitate PRAME-specific T-cell reactivity against neuroblastoma. Oncotarget. 2015 Nov 3;6(34):35770-81
de Koning C, Plantinga M, Besseling P, Boelens JJ, Nierkens S. Immune Reconstitution after Allogeneic Hematopoietic Cell Transplantation in Children. Biol Blood Marrow Transplant. 2015 Sep
Haar de C, Plantinga M, Blokland N, van Til N, Flinsenberg T, van Tendeloo V, Smits E, Boon L, Spel L, Boes M, Boelens JJ, and Nierkens S. Generation of a cord blood-derived Wilms Tumor 1 dendritic cell vaccine for AML patients treated with allogeneic cord blood transplantation . Oncoimmunology, in press (2015).
ACTIVE CLINICAL TRIALS
(Immune Monitoring in):
Randomized phase 2 TRIAL comparing experimental Immunotherapy (anti-GD2 antibody, IL-2 S.C.,GM-CSF) in recurrent high risk neuroblastoma patients with standard immunotherapy (anti-GD2 antibody, IL-2 I.V., GM-CSF) in patients with recurrent and newly diagnosed high risk neuroblastoma; NB2013-HR PILOT GPOH/DCOG
PARACHUTE trial: Prospective Analysis of an Individualized dosing Regiment of ATG (Thymoglobuline) in Children Undergoing HCT: Reducing Toxicity and Improving Efficacy a single arm Phase II study
Allogeneic Stem Cell Transplantation of NiCord®, Umbilical Cord Blood-derived Ex Vivo Expanded Stem and Progenitor Cells, in Adolescent and Adult Patients with Hematological Malignancies
ZonMW-TAS ( 1.4M, 2014-2018). Development of a cord blood stem cell-derived anti-AML dendritic cell vaccine: Translation to GMP and Phase II clinical trial.
Stichting KiKa ( 300k, 2014-2018). Towards powerful "anti-AML immunity" after cord blood transplantation
Villa Joep! ( 220k, 2012-2015). Development of a pre-clinical dendritic cell vaccine for neuroblastoma.
Stichting Ammodo ( 215k). Development of a cord-blood derived dendritic cell vaccine.
Personal KWF fellowship for fundamental and pre-clinical cancer research, Dutch Cancer Society (400k, 2007-2011).
4-year funding (€396K 2007-2011). Additional bench-fee awarded KWF (€30.000, 2010).
Associated Team Members
- Niek van Til (genetherapy and gene editing)
- Colin de Haar (DC vaccine, project manager GMP production)
- Maud Plantinga (DC vaccine, optimizing antigen presentation)
- Charlotte van Kesteren (PK/PD modeling)
- Coco de Koning (Immune-Reconstitution)
- Lotte Spel (Neuroblastoma and cell therapy)
- Rick Admiraal (PK/PD)
- Celina Szanto (Neuroblastoma and Immune System)
- Jurgen Langenhorst (Fludarabine Pharmacokinetics)
- Ester Dünnebach