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Monika Ehnman

The sarcoma tumor microenvironment (TME) team focuses on understanding how malignant and non-malignant cells are affected and educated by each other during sarcoma progression. Several of our ongoing projects characterize how such cellular reprogramming impacts childhood cancer prognosis. We are particularly exploring growth factor signaling (PDGF, TGFβ, IGF) and therapeutic targeting of candidate molecules regulating sarcoma growth, progression and metastasis in rhabdomyosarcoma. Related work include studies on cancer/testis antigens and immune cell function.

Monika Ehnman

Assistant professor

The sarcoma tumor microenvironment (TME) team focuses on understanding how malignant and non-malignant cells are affected and educated by each other during sarcoma progression. Several of our ongoing projects characterize how such cellular reprogramming impacts childhood cancer prognosis. We are particularly exploring growth factor signaling (PDGF, TGFβ, IGF) and therapeutic targeting of candidate molecules regulating sarcoma growth, progression and metastasis in rhabdomyosarcoma. Related work include studies on cancer/testis antigens and immune cell function.

Department and organisational affiliation:

About me

I am an Assistant Professor in molecular sarcoma research with a focus on cellular crosstalk in the tumor microenvironment. Cells of the tumor microenvironment control tumor growth, metastasis and response to treatment. These aspects of tumor biology are well studied in tumors derived from epithelial cells, but much less described in sarcomas. These malignant tumors of mesenchymal origin can be found almost anywhere in the body and include subtypes like rhabdomyosarcoma, Ewing sarcoma and osteosarcoma.

We have currently developed several distinct in vitro and in vivo model systems for sarcoma TME studies. Methods used in the lab, or together with our national or international collaborators, include advanced cell culture, flow cytometry, qPCR and gene expression analysis (including bioinformatics), immunostaining (including multiplexing) of human or mouse tissue material, and microscopy/image analysis. Our projects are translational and involve collaborations with bioinformaticians, pathologists, oncologists and surgeons.

During my PhD studies in the Prof Ulf Eriksson lab at the Ludwig Institute for Cancer Research Ltd, I developed an interest for PDGF signaling. My thesis work focused on characterizing how two of the most recently discovered PDGF ligands were activated by proteolytic activation. During my postdoc work in the Prof Arne Östman lab at the Cancer Center Karolinska, I continued to explore the prognostic and functional role of PDGF ligands and receptors in rhabdomyosarcoma. My main interest now as an Assistant Professor at BioClinicum (Dept of Oncology-Pathology, Karolinska Institutet) is to characterize how tumor cells make use of, and reprogram, normal host cells to participate in sarcoma progression. We hope to identify novel biomarkers and therapeutic approaches with principally different modes of action compared to the multimodal treatments of today.

Research description

For further information, please see our publications below:

1. Ehnman M, Chaabane W, Haglund F, Tsagkozis P (2019) The Tumor Microenvironment of Pediatric Sarcoma: Mesenchymal Mechanisms Regulating Cell Migration and Metastasis. Curr Oncol Rep 21 (10):90. doi:10.1007/s11912-019-0839-6.

2. Tsagozis P, Augsten M, Zhang Y, Li T, Haglund F, Bergh J, Hesla A, Tobin NP, Ehnman M (2019) An immunosuppressive macrophage profile attenuates the prognostic impact of CD20 positive B cells in human soft-tissue sarcoma. Cancer Immunol Immunother 68 (6):927-936. doi:10.1007/s00262-019-02322-y

3. Moreno-Ruiz P, Wik Leiss L, Mezheyeuski A, Ehnman M (2019) Double Immunohistochemistry and Digital Image Analysis. Methods Mol Biol 1913:3-11. doi:10.1007/978-1-4939-8979-9_1

4. Lin Y, Seger N, Tsagkozis P, Hesla AC, Ghaderi M, Chen Y, Ehnman M, Warsito D, Wejde J, Larsson O, Haglund F (2018) Telomerase promoter mutations and copy number alterations in solitary fibrous tumours. J Clin Pathol 71 (9):832-839. doi:10.1136/jclinpath-2018-205132

5. Gladh H, Folestad EB, Muhl L, Ehnman M, Tannenberg P, Lawrence AL, et al. Mice Lacking Platelet-Derived Growth Factor D Display a Mild Vascular Phenotype. PLoS One. 2016;11(3):e0152276.

6. Ehnman M, Larsson O. Microenvironmental Targets in Sarcoma. Front Oncol. 2015;5:248.

7. Paulsson J, Ehnman M, Ostman A. PDGF receptors in tumor biology: prognostic and predictive potential. Future Oncol. 2014;10(9):1695-708.

8. Ehnman M, Ostman A. Therapeutic targeting of platelet-derived growth factor receptors in solid tumors. Expert Opin Investig Drugs. 2014;23(2):211-26.

9. Ehnman M, Missiaglia E, Folestad E, Selfe J, Strell C, Thway K, et al. Distinct effects of ligand-induced PDGFRalpha and PDGFRbeta signaling in the human rhabdomyosarcoma tumor cell and stroma cell compartments. Cancer Res. 2013;73(7):2139-49.

10. Ehnman M, Li H, Fredriksson L, Pietras K, Eriksson U. The uPA/uPAR system regulates the bioavailability of PDGF-DD: implications for tumour growth. Oncogene. 2009;28(4):534-44.

11. Fredriksson L, Ehnman M, Fieber C, Eriksson U. Structural requirements for activation of latent platelet-derived growth factor CC by tissue plasminogen activator. J Biol Chem. 2005;280(29):26856-62.

12. Cronwright G, Le Blanc K, Gotherstrom C, Darcy P, Ehnman M, Brodin B. Cancer/testis antigen expression in human mesenchymal stem cells: down-regulation of SSX impairs cell migration and matrix metalloproteinase 2 expression. Cancer Res. 2005;65(6):2207-15.

Popular science research publications in collaboration with OTW/The Childhood Cancer Fund: Barncancerrapporten 2018, Barn&Cancer 2017 (mjukdelssarkom), Barncancerrapporten 2015

Teaching portfolio

Biomedicine programme, course Molecular Medicine-Oncology, Dept. of Oncology-Pathology, KI (2019)

PhD student course, Tumor microenvironment, Dept. of Oncology-Pathology, KI (2017, 2019)

Biomedicine programme, course Molecular Oncology and Biostatistics, Dept. of Oncology-Pathology, KI (2018)

Medical School, Human genetic disease and cell biology, Dept. of Cell- and Molecular Biology, KI (2004-2010)

Education

Recent courses:

Introductory doctoral supervision course, KI (2019)

Equal treatment, KI (2019)

Grundläggande högskolepedagogik (for docent competence), KI (2019)

Web course for supervisors, KI (2018)

Swedish legislation and ethics, KI (2018)

Grundläggande arbetsmiljöutbildning, KI (2018)

Brandutbildning, Karolinska (BioClinicum, Falck Academy) (2016, 2018)

Biobanking as a resource for biomedical research, KI (2015)

Risk Assessment, KI (2010, 2017)

Animal Science, Function B approval (2005, renewed 2018)

 

Degrees:

Doctoral studies in Medical Science/Cell- and Molecular Biology, Ludwig Institute for Cancer Research Ltd, Stockholm Branch Thesis title: “Activation of the Novel PDGFs by Plasminogen Activators in Tumorigenesis”  http://diss.kib.ki.se/2010/978-91-7409-898-3/, date of defence: May 21, 2010, Stockholm (2004-2010)

Diploma Thesis Work, Rotationsprogrammet, Cancer Center Karolinska, KI, Stockholm (2003)

MSc in Molecular Biology, Bioteknologiprogrammet, Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences (SLU), Uppsala (1999-2003)

Academic honours, awards and prizes

Top 10 finalist and invited speaker, Oncology Abstract Competition, MedImmune, Cambridge, United Kingdom (2011)

Pitmans Examination Institute Certificate in English, Advanced level, Embassy CES, Oxford (2003)

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