Cancer immunotherapy is a form of cancer therapy that leverages a person’s own immune system to attack the tumour and overcome cancer. It promises far less severe side-effects than current standard treatment (surgery, radiotherapy, and chemotherapy), and long-lasting, body-wide responses. It has the potential to radically change the field of oncology and turn a very deadly disease into a curable one (i.e., one with complete remission).
The most promising strategy so far is immune checkpoint inhibitor (ICI) therapy which has had a great impact in many cancer types. ICI therapy aims to lift the brakes (checkpoints) that tumour cells use to escape the immune system. Unfortunately, still many patients do no benefit. Indeed, the increased use of ICIs in the clinic and post-marketing studies have revealed that less than 40% of persons inflicted with cancer are eligible for treatment, and only around 10% respond to it (1). Research shows that this can be mainly explained by fact that in the case of many cancers no immune cells are present in the tumour mass, hence there are no immune cells to be (re-)activated against the tumour in the first place.
Personalised immunotherapy has shown promise, especially for hard-to-treat tumours, by activating the immune system against tumour-specific proteins (neoantigens) presented on the tumour cell surface. This way the immune system is able to specifically recognise and subsequently eliminate the tumour cells, hereby overcoming the current limitations of ICI therapy.
More information about the science at the interplay between the immune system and cancer can be found here
myNEO strongly believes that deep sequencing of tumours prior to therapy initiation is the way to go. It will avoid application of sub-optimal or ineffective therapies and allows for the design of a personalised (immuno-)therapy.
Our myIO platform integrates all necessary steps needed for a fully personalised analysis pre-, on-, and post-treatment by extracting all mutational and immunological information from tumour sequencing data of individual biopsies. It specifically aims to drive personalisation in immunotherapy by integrating three important pillars for successful therapy: mutational analysis, immune profiling, and personalised follow-up.
For more information, please contact Lien Lybaert.
(1) Haslam, A., Gill, J. & Prasad, V. Estimation of the Percentage of US Patients With Cancer Who Are Eligible for Immune Checkpoint Inhibitor Drugs. JAMA Netw. open 3, e200423–e200423 (2020).