Kari Kurppa profile picture
Academy Research Fellow, Institute of Biomedicine
PhD, Principal Investigator



Principal Investigator 2020 -> ; Institute of Biomedicine, University of Turku

Senior Researcher (erikoistutkija) 2019-2020 ; Institute of Biomedicine, University of Turku

Post-doctoral Fellow 2016-2019 ; Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, Harvard Medical School, Boston, USA. Mentor: Professor Pasi A. Jänne

PhD 2014 ; Medical Biochemistry and Genetics, University of Turku

MSc (Biochemistry) 2008 ; University of Turku


The Cancer Drug Resistance laboratory aims to understand the means cancer cells use to develop resistance to cancer therapies. Our special focus are the mechanisms that enable the establishment of minimal residual disease, or govern the maintenance of residual tumors following targeted cancer therapy. The overarching goal of our research is to develop rational combination strategies that will extend the long-term efficacy of clinically used cancer therapies.

While targeted therapy has transformed the treatment of cancer, the long-term efficacy of these strategies is hampered by acquired drug resistance. In many cases, clinical drug resistance is preceded by minimal residual disease (MRD) state, where residual tumors stay dormant for an extended period of time. Emerging evidence indicates that the establishment of MRD is mainly regulated by non-genetic mechanisms, as cancer cells adapt to treatment by acquiring new phenotypic states that no longer depend on the targeted oncogene. These slow-cycling drug tolerant cells can regain proliferative state upon drug withdrawal or acquisition of additional resistance mechanisms, and as such serve as a reservoir of dormant cells capable of re-initiating the growth of a drug resistant tumor. Understanding the mechanisms underlying the establishment or maintenance of minimal residual disease would enable the development of rational combination strategies aimed to prevent or limit residual disease, leading to prolonged survival of cancer patients.


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An allosteric inhibitor against the therapy-resistant mutant forms of EGFR in non-small cell lung cancer (2022)

Nature Cancer
To Ciric, Beyett Tyler S., Jang Jaebong, Feng William W., Bahcall Magda, Haikala Heidi M., Shin Bo H., Heppner David E., Rana Jaimin K., Leeper Brittaney A., Soroko Kara M., Poitras Michael J., Gokhale Prafulla C., Kobayashi Yoshihisa, Wahid Kamal, Kurppa Kari J., Gero Thomas W., Cameron Michael D., Ogino Atsuko, Mushajiang Mierzhati, Xu Chunxiao X., Zhang Yanxi X., Scott David A., Eck Michael J., Gray Nathanael S., Jänne Pasi A.
(Vertaisarvioitu alkuperäisartikkeli tai data-artikkeli tieteellisessä aikakauslehdessä (A1))

Treatment-Induced Tumor Dormancy through YAP-Mediated Transcriptional Reprogramming of the Apoptotic Pathway (2020)

Cancer Cell
Kurppa KJ, Liu Y, To C, Zhang TH, Fan MY, Vajdi A, Knelson EH, Xie YT, Lim K, Cejas P, Portell A, Lizotte PH, Ficarro SB, Li S, Chen T, Haikala HM, Wang HY, Bahcall M, Gao Y, Shalhout S, Boettcher S, Shin BH, Thai T, Wilkens MK, Tillgren ML, Mushajiang M, Xu M, Choi J, Bertram AA, Ebert BL, Beroukhim R, Bandopadhayay P, Awad MM, Gokhale PC, Kirschmeier PT, Marto JA, Camargo FD, Haq R, Paweletz CP, Wong KK, Barbie DA, Long HW, Gray NS, Janne PA
(Vertaisarvioitu alkuperäisartikkeli tai data-artikkeli tieteellisessä aikakauslehdessä (A1))