Maija Hollmen profile picture
InFLAMES Flagship
Docent, MediCity
Academy Research Fellow, MediCity
PhD, Doc.; Principal Investigator, Academy Research Fellow


+358 29 450 4389
Tykistökatu 6

Areas of expertise

Tumor Immunology
Breast Cancer


I got interested in the immunological aspect of cancer during my three-year postdoctoral training at ETH Zurich with professor Michael Detmar during the years 2011-2014. Before this I had already built extensive knowledge in cancer biology, epidermal growth factor receptor signaling and immunotherapy during my PhD studies with professor Klaus Elenius. These two periods have educated me to do trans-disciplinary research combining different methods and ideas together with good outcome. I am at the state of leading a small tumor immunology research group and building collaborations both nationally and internationally. The aim of my research is to always produce clinically relevant data that can be translated directly from bench to bedside. Therefore, a vital part of my research has been done in collaboration with clinicians and pharma companies.


Lecturer in Molecular Medicine and Basic Immunology; Normal and Pathological Angiogenesis, Myeloid Leukocytes and Pattern Recognition


Development of strategies targeting immunosuppressive cells, molecules and pathways with less toxicity and with more universal role in tumor progression is an unmet clinical need. Possibilities to control the presence of suppressive cells within tumors are key factors in opening new avenues to fight against cancer growth. This is highly important since efforts in re-activating immune responses against tumors solely by blocking T cell inhibitory molecules have not shown promise as a single therapy for the vast majority of patients.

Mechanisms regulating macrophage phenotype in the tumor microenvironment has emerged as a highly potential field in drug development. Moreover, definitive biomarkers indicative of immunotherapy treatment response and feasible assessment of the immunological changes of the tumor microenvironment during and after treatment are severely lacking.

Our research exploits a unique scavenger receptor Clever-1, expressed on a subpopulation of immunosuppressive macrophages, to alleviate tumor related inflammation and develop Clever-1 as a companion therapeutic, diagnostic, and prognostic biomarker to treat and identify patients under immunosuppression. This involves the use of in vivo tumor models and sophisticated immunological assays with cutting-edge technology and state-of-the-art imaging combined with fresh human cancer patient material to elucidate the function of Clever-1 in controlling macrophage mediated local and systemic immune responses. Our results potentially have a high impact in understanding the mechanism of macrophage-mediated immunosuppression in cancer and promoting anti-Clever-1 immunotherapy into clinical trials where it may have benefits in comparison with currently available immune activating drugs.


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Clever-1 positive macrophages in breast cancer (2022)

Breast Cancer Research and Treatment
Mutka Minna, Virtakoivu Reetta, Joensuu Kristiina, Hollmén Maija, Heikkilä Päivi
(Vertaisarvioitu alkuperäisartikkeli tai data-artikkeli tieteellisessä aikakauslehdessä (A1))

Systemic Blockade of Clever-1 Elicits Lymphocyte Activation Alongside Checkpoint Molecule Downregulation in Patients with Solid Tumors: Results from a Phase I/II Clinical Trial (2021)

Clinical Cancer Research
Virtakoivu Reetta, Rannikko Jenna H, Viitala Miro, Vaura Felix, Takeda Akira, Lönnberg Tapio, Koivunen Jussi, Jaakkola Panu, Pasanen Annika, Shetty Shishir, de Jonge Maja JA, Robbrecht Debbie, Ma Yuk Ting, Skyttä Tanja, Minchom Anna, Jalkanen Sirpa, Karvonen Matti K, Mandelin Jami, Bono Petri, Hollmén Maija
(Vertaisarvioitu alkuperäisartikkeli tai data-artikkeli tieteellisessä aikakauslehdessä (A1))