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New Israeli technology improves prediction of patient response to immunotherapy

Original source here.

Ben-Gurion University researchers develop innovative biosensor, team up with Israeli biotech company OncoHost in bid for FDA approval

“Maybe expression matters. But what’s more important is the functionality of the binding of the ligands and receptors. You need to know how many of the ligands can suppress the T cells. You can have a lot of proteins and not many are active, and have few but many of those are very active,” he said.

OncoHost’s Sharon explained that the researchers developed an artificial body based on a T cell (the IcAR) and expressed PD1 on its surface. They incubated this cell with a tumor and looked to see if the cell was secreting an easily measured specific substance, Interleukin-2 (IL-2). The secretion happens only when the PD1 is active.

“So what we have now is an assay that allows us to identify functionality based on the secretion of the increase in the levels of IL-2. It’s basically a new biosensor,” he said.

The BGU team was able to quantify the functionality of the protein in a fixed tissue, or old pathology sample. This is a clear advantage over current technologies that involve screening fresh tissue samples, meaning that patients have to undergo several biopsies over time.

“With our technology, I can take samples from pathologies from 10 years and I can do retrospective studies of thousands and thousands of patients to look for new potential patients that can respond to treatment. This will help us select the right patients with different cancer types. There is an unlimited opportunity with this technology,” Elkabets said.

Both Elkabets and Sharon emphasized that this new technology is not only for PD1 and can be adapted to other proteins found on T cells, including CTLA-4 and others.

“I think that we will be able to potentially use this technology to identify immune checkpoint combination therapies,” Elkabets said.

As he prepares to engage with the FDA, Sharon is pleased with the data on hand.

“What we have is something with very high sensitivity specificity as compared to the current PDL1 biomarker… and we have the results already from several tumor types — lung, metabolic, renal cell, and melanoma — with similar performance,” Sharon said.

“So different tumor types, better accuracy, and a tool that I think is scalable at relatively low cost,” he said.

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