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AACR 2018 – Hot Topics

By Cathie Miller, Ph.D. / Jun 12, 2018

At this year’s 110th AACR, Immuno-oncology was the topic of many discussions including seven out of eleven plenary sessions. Biggest of all was the lung cancer plenary session that discussed potentially standard-of-care-changing results from Merck, BMS, and Roche in relation to PD-L1 biomarker-related first-line treatment of metastatic non-small cell lung cancer.

BioIVT hosted a special discussion in partnership with Adipogen, Biotek, Grenier Bio-One, and n3D Biosciences on the development and use of sensitive in vitro methods to assess T cell-mediated cytotoxicity, paramount to preclinical testing of T cell immunotherapies. Our collaboration highlighted the use of BioIVT’s primary human T cells, demonstrating T cell-mediated cytotoxicity assays in both 2D and 3D target cell models.  A brief overview of various adoptive T cell immunotherapies and mechanisms of T cell-mediated cytotoxicity was given by Wini Luty (BioIVT) to set the stage for the relevancy of the work, followed by an introduction to the novel n3D magnetic 3D cell culture technology given by Glauco Souza (n3D).  Last, Brad Larson (Biotek) detailed the methodology, explaining T cell activation and culture using Adipogen’s IL-2 Superkine to expand the effector T cells and the creation of the target cancer cell spheroids, with n3D’s technology.  Using Biotek’s Cytation 5’s live-imaging capabilities, paired with the use of fluorescent probes, data-rich movies were captured showing BioIVT’s T cells attacking and obliterating 3D breast cancer spheroids. If a picture is worth a thousand words, then a movie is priceless!

Continued interest in Liquid Biopsies (LB) and Circulating Tumor Cells (CTCs) was present. Exploring the use of liquid biopsies to determine PD-L1 levels, tumor mutation burden, or microsatellite instability and significance to tumor remains a source of development. Focus on CTCs has moved from enumeration to looking at single cell genotype and phenotype variation analysis.  Conferring responses seen with PD-L1 and other biomarkers from tissue and translating these with relevance to LB and CTC is of key interest.

As part of the Cancer Prevention and Survivorship session, a need for a pre-cancer atlas similar to the TCGA was discussed by Avrum Spira, Professor of Medicine, Pathology and Bioinformatics at Boston University School of Medicine, stating “this is going to transform our understanding of the root cause of cancer, which will ultimately impact our ability to prevent, intercept, and detect the disease early.”

In addition, there was a continued exploration of the role of the microbiome in cancer development and treatment effect. Notably, Seres Therapeutics presented data on the positive impact of a diverse microbiome following PD-L1 checkpoint inhibitor therapy in mice. Seres presented data on their preclinical oral microbiome therapy to improve efficacy and safety of immunotherapy.

Finally, in a sure to be controversial session, Google discussed the use of Artificial Intelligence (AI) to not only identify, but grade tumors. They demonstrated that their computer algorithm was able to identify lymph node breast cancer metastases better than human pathologists. In addition, the AI was able to accurately assign a Gleason grade to prostate cancer, on a similar level as human pathologists. It will be interesting to watch the development of this AI and its impact on cancer treatment and diagnosis.

In addition to the exciting discussions on therapeutic, diagnostic and survivorship developments, we launched our new name – BioIVT. In order to better aid drug discovery and companion diagnostic researchers, BioIVT has brought under one new brand a greatly expanded, market-leading portfolio to include a broader array of biospecimens and value-added services that can be customized to meet the most advanced research objectives. In addition to expanding our biospecimen offering, BioIVT has expanded our PHASEZERO® Research Services, providing target and biomarker validation, phenotypic assays to characterize novel therapeutics, clinical assay development and in vitro hepatic modeling solutions. By delivering actionable data, we enable clients to make more informed development decisions surrounding the safety and efficacy of therapeutic or chemical compounds.

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