Clinical OMICS

NOV-DEC 2017

Healthcare magazine for research scientists, labs, pathologists, hospitals, cancer centers, physicians and biopharma companies providing news articles, expert interviews and videos about molecular diagnostics in precision medicine

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6 Clinical OMICs November/December 2017 News The NIH is looking to a new partnership with four academic research institutions and 11 biopharmas to help speed up development of cancer immunotherapies, and expand their reach to benefit more patients. How well the Partnership for Accelerating Cancer Ther- apies (PACT) achieves those goals will depend on how fully it can address what NIH Director Francis S. Collins, M.D., Ph.D., called the fundamental question the program is designed to answer: "Why doesn't immunotherapy work for all patients in all types of cancer, and what can we do about that?" PACT is a five-year, $215-million public –private research collaboration with an initial focus on identifying, develop- ing, and validating biomarkers to guide and improve treat- ments that help the immune system attack cancer. A key component of PACT is the network of four institu- tions, which was awarded a total $53.6 million by the NIH's National Cancer Institute (NCI) to support four Cancer Immune Monitoring and Analysis Centers (CIMACs) and a Cancer Immunologic Data Commons (CIDC). Each center will be awarded $8 million in direct costs: $1.6 million per year over five years, plus indirect costs. The CIMACs are designed to focus on systematic col- lection, processing and analysis of blood and tumor sam- ples, as well as immune monitoring, for adult and pediatric immunotherapy clinical trials. The CIDC is designed to serve the bioinformatics needs of the institutions, including collection, integration, access, and analysis of data gener- ated from CIMACs. The NIH reasons that applying assays consistently in tri- als across the NCI's National Clinical Trials Network, and collecting the data in a central data commons, will greatly facilitate the ability to perform cross trial analyses on large numbers of patients. A Range of Questions CIMACs have been awarded to Stanford Cancer Institute; Precision Immunology Institute and the Tisch Cancer Insti- tute at Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai; University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center; and Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, which will also oversee the CIDC. "To some extent, the different CIMAC sites will offer dif- ferent menus of assays, so we won't need to standardize everything across sites. But we will certainly work on best practices to ensure sensitivity and reproducibility of data over time," Holden T. Maecker, Ph.D., professor (research), microbiology and immunology, and co-principal investiga- tor of the Stanford CIMAC with Sean Bendall, Ph.D., told Clinical OMICs. Maecker said the CIMAC at Stanford Cancer Institute will draw upon technologies in the labs of Bendall and Michael Angelo, M.D., Ph.D. Both pioneered Molecular Ion Beam Imaging (MIBI), which the CIMAC will apply as well as Assay of Transposon Accessible Chromatin with Sequenc- ing (ATACseq). "MIBI can provide highly multiplexed imaging informa- tion from the tumor environment. ATACseq measures gene regulation in immune cell populations on a genomic scale," Maecker said. "My lab, the Human Immune Monitoring Center (HIMC), will perform mass cytometry (CyTOF), high-dimensional flow cytometry, Luminex multiplexed cytokine assays, and single-cell TCRseq assays. "We chose these technologies to cover a range of ques- tions about the immunological state of both the tumor envi- ronment and the systemic host immune system, mostly at a single-cell level, and in the case of MIBI, taking account of cell–cell interactions as well," he said. An Immuno-Oncology PACT NIH Joins Biopharmas, Research Institutions in Launching Moonshot-Funded Partnership By Alex Philippidis Researchers at Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai will use the mass cytometry or Cytometry by Time of Flight (CyTOF) platform to execute some of the more sophisticated assays.

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