Roundtable Discussion Part 2: IsoPlexis’ Functional Proteomics Accelerates Innovations in Cancer Immunology Research

  • A roundtable discussion with leading experts in cancer immunology was recently published in the journal Human Gene Therapy, including Dr. Naval Daver, Dr. Tara Merghoub, Dr. Lisa Butterfield, and Dr. James R. Heath, addressing current challenges and emerging methods in the field.
  • One challenge in the field is performing functional assessments of single cells in clinical settings. Functional measures for immune activity such as IsoPlexis’ help address this issue by increasing work-away time and providing intuitive data visualizations.
  • Defining the function of different cells in the tumor microenvironment helps researchers identify what is driving a tumor’s resistance to treatment and predict the most optimal treatments moving forward.

Experts in Cancer Immunology Discuss the Future of the Field

In a previous post, we introduced a Mary-Ann Liebert published roundtable discussion with leading experts in the field of cancer immunology. Panelists discussed current issues in the field, and the future of cancer immunology research. With the advent of single-cell functional proteomics, researchers can unveil the function of individual cells and identify over or underactive immune cells to create treatments targeted to the patient. Read on for highlights of some of the expert responses.

What are the limitations of the current standard methods for evaluating the mechanisms related to persistence, suppression, and resistance within the tumor-immune interactions with patients?

According to Dr. Naval Daver of MD Anderson Cancer Center, one significant challenge is the difficulty of performing functional assessment of single cells in clinical settings. In collaboration with IsoPlexis, Dr. Daver and his team have analyzed single-cell cytokine production and found strong correlations between baseline T cell functionality and clinical response. You can watch our webinar with Dr. Daver on biomarker strategies for designing combination immunotherapy treatments for blood cancers here.

Dr. Daver expressed a need for functional measures for immune activity, such as the technology from IsoPlexis, that can be adapted for use in the clinic. “People mainly do studies of phenotypes, but we do not know whether that phenotype equates function,” says Dr. Taha Merghoub of Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center. “If we are able to assess the functionality of these cell populations and the relationship between each other, I think we will be in a better place.”

Given the complexity of the tumor microenvironment, how does understanding the function of different cell types involved in the immune response help accelerate the development of novel therapies?

By defining the function and relationship of different cell types in the tumor microenvironment, researchers can uncover what is driving a tumor’s resistance to treatment, says Dr. Merghoub. With this information, clinicians can identify the therapies most likely to be effective against the tumor’s resistance and avoid toxicities and nonoptimal treatments. To read more about how IsoPlexis’ single-cell functional phenotyping helps researchers overcome tumor-immune challenges, read our blog posts here and here.

How do single-cell solutions address gaps in the current biomarker offerings?

While understanding how a group of cells behaves on average can be useful, it only gives scientists a first-level insight. “Without understanding what the program within an individual cell is, you cannot really understand what is going on in different places in the tumor and trafficking of these cells,” explains Dr. Lisa Butterfield. With single-cell analysis, researchers aren’t limited to a predetermined set of biomarkers. What’s next in the world of single-cell proteomics? Fast and affordable single-cell technologies available to a broader range of patients, says Dr. Butterfield.

IsoPlexis’ single-cell technology provides critical insights into cell function and identifies hyperactive superhero and supervillain cells, allowing researchers and clinicians to harness their power against cancers, inflammation, and infectious diseases. The IsoPlexis platform is uniquely able to analyze both single cells and small samples through proteomics, secretomics, and metabolomics, all within one automated system, the IsoLight.

Access the full roundtable and learn more about the future of functional proteomics in cancer immunology here.

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