Here you can find the abstracts of biobank research projects in year 2015, which use the samples from Auria Biobank.

Biobank research projects each year:

2014  |  2016  |  2017

New prognostic methods of predicting treatment response in head and neck cancers

Jukka Westermarck, Centre for Biotechnology, UTU

In the TYKS operating district, an average of roughly 100 new cases of head and neck cancers are diagnosed every year. Despite advances in treatment, the survival rate among patients with epithelium carcinoma of the head and neck area is only approximately 50%. The study aims to identify novel prognostic and predictive expression profiles for head and neck cancers for clinical application. If the study reveals that the predictive value of novel biomarkers is better than the ones used previously, the results can be applied in the selection of individual modes of treatment.

VULSAMET – From lichen sclerosus to metastasising vulvar cancer – novel cancer tracers markers

Sakari Hietanen and Marjut Rintala, TYKS/Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology
Niina Hieta, TYKS/Department of Dermatology

The study aims to determine, using biomarkers, factors influencing the occurrence and invasion of vulvar cancer, in particular the factors influencing metastasis to the lymph nodes. The research aims to understand the factors affecting the cancer’s development and progression. Thus, in future, novel cancer risk factors can be found, and new, targeted medicine can be developed for cancer treatment. The research results could also influence the treatment recommendations for genital rashes as far as the risk of cancer is concerned.

DOTANOC-PET/TT imaging of somatostatin receptors in lymphomas and full body magnetic imaging in the monitoring of early treatment responses

Sirkku Jyrkkiö, Tiina Ruuska and Heikki Minn, Department of Oncology and Radiotherapy, TYKS

The study is part of a broader programme that aims to determine the presence of somatostatin receptors in lymphomas. The study charts the expression of somatostatin receptors in several lymphoma sub-types, as well as the predictive value of receptors by correlating the expression of the receptors in samples with the patients’ survival data. The results of the study are important in differentiating lymphomas from neuroendocrine tumours. At the same time, it can be determined whether isotope therapy aimed at somatostatin receptors can be applied to the treatment of lymphoma.

The role of calcium channels and medications that regulate themhypertension medication in cancer

Johanna Ivaska, Centre for Biotechnology, UTU

A link between the expression of myosin-X protein and the spread of cancer has been proved, with a correlation between high myosin-X levels and poor outcome in breast cancer patients. In addition, the protein regulates the metastasis and invasion of breast cancer and pancreatic cancer cells. Calcium channel blockers used as blood pressure medication inhibit the activity of myosin-X protein and the invasion of cancer cells in vitro. The role of calcium channels in cancer has not been studied before, and medications that block them are generally used to treat high blood pressure. The research explores the effects of calcium channel blockers in the progression and outcome of breast cancer and pancreatic cancer. The expression of calcium channels and myosin-X protein in breast and pancreatic cancer samples is also studied.

Biomarkers that predict tumour behaviour in stage II colorectal cancer

Jari Sundström, TYKS-SAPA, Pathology

Patients with stage II colorectal cancer are a problematic patient group for oncologists to treat, as not enough data exists on which patients benefit from adjuvant and beta blocker therapy. The study aims to find promising novel biomarkers for predicting a high recurrence risk in stage II colorectal cancer patients.

Cell division regulation as a predictor of breast cancer

Pauliina Kronqvist, TYKS-SAPA, Pathology

The project is a continuation of the research on the prognosis of breast cancer that aims to evaluate the significance of the regulating factors in the division of breast cancer cells in terms of the recurrence of the disease and patients’ survival. The data covers all breast cancer types, including so-called triple-negative breast cancer cases, which currently present the biggest challenge in breast cancer treatment. The study focuses on cell-division-regulating biomarkers that predict the progression of the disease, and on their correlation with known predictors of breast cancer and patient survival. The study aims to further the knowledge of breast cancer biology and improve the methods used for assessing prognoses.

Intestinal cancer treatment outcomes in Auria Biobank’s database from 2003–2012

Eetu Heervä and Heikki Minn, Oncology Outpatient Clinic, TYKS

Cancer of the intestines is the third most common cancer, after breast and prostate cancer. In Finland, treatment outcomes for intestinal cancer have improved over the years. The purpose of the study is to determine the treatment outcome of intestinal cancer, measured in terms of the patients’ lifetime in Auria Biobank’s database from 2003 until 2012. The study aims to find factors correlated with an improvement in treatment outcomes over the years.

Factors predicting overall survival, disease transformation and complications, and healthcare utilization in patients with high- and low-risk polycythemia vera in the area of Hospital District of Southwest Finland

Novartis Finland Oy

Polycythemia vera (PV) is a chronic myeloproliferative neoplasm (MPN). PV is a part of the MPN group of blood disorders, and it can transform in a time-dependent phenomenon to myelofibrosis (MF) or to acute myeloid leukemia (AML). Patients can be divided in to low- (age <60 years and no history of thrombosis) and high-risk patients. The main purpose of this study is to assess the incidence and prevalence of PV in Finland and to find out overall survival and any potential prognostic risk factors in high- and low risk patients.

Hypoxia in head and neck squamous cell carcinoma (HNSCC)

Tove Grönroos, PET Center, UTU

It is known that hypoxic HNSCC tumors are more resistant to radiotherapy than non-hypoxic ones. Majority of HNSCCs are positive for human papilloma virus (HPV), and patients with HPV positive tumors respond well to radiotherapy in comparison with HPV negative patients. The biological basis for this observation is not fully understood. Toll-like receptor 9 (TLR9) is part of the adaptive immune system. In recent studies a link between TLR9, hypoxia and HPV expression status in cancer has been observed. The aim of the study is to analyze the expression of TLR9 and HPV in HNSCC patients’ tumors, in which the level of hypoxia as well as the response to radiotherapy is known.

High-grade serous ovarian cancer

Olli Carpen, Department of Biomedicine, University of Turku

Epithelial ovarian cancer is the fifth leading cause of female cancer deaths in Europe. More than half of the patients with high-grade serous ovarian cancer (HGS-OvCa), the most common ovarian cancer subtype, die within five years after diagnosis. The survival odds for a patient with HGS-OvCa have not markedly improved in the last 20 years, and thus novel, innovative solutions to better understand and treat HGS-OvCa are desperately needed. The purpose of the study is, by using genomic information, to develop tools to identify those HGS-OvCa patients who do not respond to standard treatments. The aim is to identify unique molecular profiles, which could be used to predict the treatment response of individual patients.

Expression and prognostic association of glycan biomarkers in prostate cancer

Glykos Finland Oy

Prostate cancer is the most common newly diagnosed cancer in men. Widespread use of PSA screens has led to overdiagnosis and overtreatment of indolent forms of prostate cancer. The purpose of the study is to generate glycan fingerprints from prostate adenocarcinomas and benign prostatic lesions, and validate a method for clinical diagnosis of prostate cancer from tumor biopsies.

Identification and characterization of novel biomarkers in skin cancer

Veli-Matti Kähäri, University of Turku, Department of Dermatology

Keratinocyte-derived cutaneous squamous cell carcinoma (cSCC) is the most common metastatic skin cancer. Exposure to UV-radiation from sun is the most important risk factor for cSCC. Although most cSCCs are curable with surgical excision, recurrent and metastatic tumors are difficult to treat. The incidence of premalignant actinic keratosis is also steadily increasing in developed countries, and there is an urgent need to find specific biomarkers for identifying high-risk premalignant skin lesions. The aim of this study is to find and validate new biomarkers for evaluating the risk of progression and metastasis of cSCC. It is expected that the results obtained will improve diagnosis, classification and prognostication of cSCCs and its precursors.

Gadolinium deposition in gliomas after contrast-enhanced MT imaging

Heikki Minn and Aida Kiviniemi, Oncology Clinic, Turku University Hospital

The safety profile of gadolinium-based contrast agents (GBCAs) routinely used in magnetic resonance (MR) imaging has generally been regarded as high. Recent studies have shown that gadolinium may accumulate as long term deposits to specific normal brain structures after repeated contrast-enhanced MRI scans. The clinical significance of this observation, however, is unclear. The use of GBCA is essential especially among patients with gliomas in which contrast-enhancement is a hallmark of ruptured blood-brain barrier (BBB). Given the fact that patients with gliomas are often subjected to several contrast-enhanced MRI scans during their follow-up, the aim of the study is to examine the deposits of gadolinium into the brain tumor with a highly sensitive inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometry (ICP-MS). In addition, the relation of gadolinium deposits in gliomas to the number of previous GBCA doses administered, and to the signal intensity of the tumor on unenhanced T1-weighted MR images will be assessed.

Novel molecular markers of ovarian granulosa cell tumors

Markku Heikinheimo and Anniina Färkkilä, Dept. of Obstetrics and Gynecology, University of Helsinki and HUCH

Adult granulosa cell tumor (AGCT) is a unique subtype of ovarian cancer. AGCTs are hormonally active and hormonal manipulation has been considered as adjuvant therapy, however the mechanisms of action and effectiveness remain debatable. The effect of hormones on tumor growth and prognosis will be explored. The aim is to find novel biomarkers for AGCT and to study the mechanism and effectiveness of hormonal therapies in treatment of recurrent disease.

Significance of VAP-1 molecule in pulmonary fibrosis

Marko Salmi, Medical microbiology and immunology, University of Turku

In certain diseases, there is accumulation of connective tissue in the lungs which inhibits respiration. The reason for the accumulation is unknown and there are no efficient treatments available for the disease. The research group has observed in an animal model that inhibition of VAP-1 molecule decreases the amount of accumulated connective tissue in the lungs. The aim of the study is to investigate if VAP-1 is expressed in pulmonary fibrosis in man, and to explore whether VAP-1 inhibitors could possibly be used to treat this disease.

Study on the epidemiological expression of melanoma, efficacy of treatment and use of health care resources in the Hospital District of Southwest Finland

Novartis Finland Oy

Metastatic melanoma is fast spreading disease with poor prognosis. Novel therapies have improved the progression free survival, overall survival and quality of life of the patients with advanced disease. Selection of patients to these different therapies is at the moment based on clinical selection criteria. It is important to characterize the patients that are eligible for different treatment options as well as investigate the outcomes of treated patients in order to form better informed decisions for the treatments.

Prognostic genetic markers for radiation- and EGFR-treatment response in head and neck cance
Klaus Elenius, Medical biochemistry and genetics, University of Turku

The treatment options for head and neck cancer are surgical operation, radiotherapy and/or medical treatment. Radiotherapy and medical treatment are, however, not equally effective for all patients. The purpose of this study is to investigate if the treatment response can be predicted by presence of certain mutations in head and neck tumors.

Molecular determinants in metastatic colorectal cancer with exceptionally good and poor prognosis

Annika Ålgars and Heikki Minn, Cancer clinic, Turku University Hospital

The prognosis of colorectal cancer depends on several factors, including how widely the tumor has spread when diagnosed. The patients’ disease varies. Part of the patients have very aggressive disease with short overall survival independent of the treatments. On the other hand, part of the patients have stable disease and long survival. The aim of the study is to identify genetic mutations from the tumors of both groups of patients, which could be used in identification of patients with disease characteristics specific to either group. Use of that information in treatment decisions would enable more personalized care for each patient.

Vulval malignancies in lichen sclerosus

Niina Hieta, Dermatology clinic, Turku University Hospital

Lichen sclerosus is a chronic inflammatory skin disease presenting mainly on the anogenital area. In contrast to other chronic rash, there is an increased 2-5% risk that lichen sclerosus develops to carcinoma. The most common malignancy developed from lichen sclerosus is squamous cell carcinoma, and there are only anecdotal reports on other malignancies. The purpose of the study is to investigate other malignancies than squamous cell carcinoma in anogenital area of female lichen sclerosus patients.

Prognostic biomarkers in non-small cell lung carcinoma (NSCLC)

Eva-Maria Talvitie, Department of pathology, Turku University Hospital

Until recently, the most important factor determining clinical management and prognosis of NSCLC patients has been TNM staging system, but new prognostic and predictive factors are now being recognized, especially for adenocarcinoma. In addition, there is a growing need for new prognostic and predictive biomarkers to help to stratify patients for different treatment options and to develop new targeted therapies. The aim of the study is to find and validate potential prognostic and predictive biomarkers for NSCLC.

Study on the epidemiological expression, treatment practices, comorbidities and prognosis of rare immunologic hematological diseases in the Southwest Finland Hospital District

Novartis Finland Oy

Chronic immunologic thrombocytopenic purple (ITP) and aplastic anemia (AA) are rare hematological diseases, whose mechanism of origin are not fully understood. The study aims to clarify the prevalence, prognosis and complications, as well as the treatment practices of ITP and AA.

Treatment patterns and outcomes for patients with metastatic breast cancer: a retrospective chart review and biobank analysis

Pfizer Oy

Breast cancer is the most common cancer among women in Finland, and the incidence is estimated to rise. However, current real-world data on patient characteristics, treatment patterns, and health care resource utilization for patients with breast cancer in Finland is limited. The goal of the present study is to gain a current understanding of real-world treatment patterns and resource use associated with metastatic breast cancer in Finland. We presently lack unique country-specific data describing drivers of treatment selection and how these factors may impact the patient and the health care system.

Study on treatment results of breast cancer in Hospital District of Southwest Finland
Riikka Huovinen and Antti Ellonen, Cancer clinic, Turku University Hospital


Breast cancer is the most common cancer in females. Over 90% of patients are alive 5 years after the diagnosis, indicating that the treatment efficacy is in general good. Prognosis of metastatic disease is not as good. The efficacy of current treatments has been evaluated in various controlled clinical studies. In practice, the treatment is affected e.g. by the treatment decisions of clinicians and the structure of healthcare system. The purpose of the study is to investigate the treatment results of breast cancer in Hospital District of Southwest Finland as measured by the overall survival

Study to identify new drug target

Astellas Pharma Inc., LifeDataWorks Oy

The study aims to identify new drug target based on analysis on genetic and health record information of the patients banked in Auria Biobank.

Development of a diagnostic method to identify patients with high risk of Thiopurine induced severe adverse events

Institute for Molecular Medicine in Finland (FIMM) and The Broad Institute
Samuli Ripatti, Jukka Koskela, Mark Daly

Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis are inflammatory diseases of the gastrointestinal tract. Tiopurines are immunosuppressive medications widely-used for the maintenance and achievement of disease remission. While proven to be effective, their use is challenged by high rates of severe adverse effects. The aim of the study is to identify the genetic determinants of thiopurine related adverse effects.