Biognosys Grant Program 2020 - Immuno-oncology Edition - Biognosys
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Biognosys Grant Program 2020 – Immuno-oncology Edition

This year’s edition is focused on metastatic pancreatic cancer.

Immuno-oncology has transformed the way cancer is treated today and has significantly improved patient outcomes. Yet, the complexities of the cancer environment and how the immune system could interact with the cancerous cells are still poorly understood. Heterogeneous responsivity to treatment is common, and a shift towards personalized treatments is necessary. The development of reliable biomarkers and novel immunotherapies has proven challenging. Proteomics offers an innovative approach to capture the tumor microenvironment and host immune response at the molecular level.

The Project

The PRINCE trial investigates the addition of immunotherapy (PD-1 inhibitor and/or CD40 agonist) to standard chemotherapy for the treatment of metastatic pancreatic cancer patients. The resulting clinical data from this phase II study were compared to historical results from patients treated with standard-of-care chemotherapy only. The combination of chemotherapy and nivolumab significantly improved overall survival compared to historical data. The proteomics analysis, carried out by Biognosys, revealed protein signatures in blood associated with treatment outcomes, which may be used as predictive and/or prognostic biomarkers. The study also found that treatment with a CD40 agonist and chemotherapy activates dendritic and B cells in pancreatic cancer patients, key components of the immune response in leading to antitumor immunity. These data demonstrate minimally invasive biomarker approaches, such as proteomics in blood, may provide valuable information about a patient’s ability to respond to different immunotherapy treatments.

Theresa LaVallee, PhD, joined the Parker Institute for Cancer Immunotherapy in 2017 and is VP of translational medicine and regulatory affairs. She has more than 25 years of research and industry experience, with broad drug discovery and development knowledge. Dr. LaVallee has profound expertise in translational medicine that enables science-driven development decisions and implements effective use of biomarker assays in clinical studies. She is the author or co-author of more than 50 publications and abstracts with a focus on translational medicine approaches in clinical development. She received her doctoral degree in microbiology and molecular genetics from the University of California, Los Angeles, and her bachelor’s degree in biochemistry and molecular biology from the University of California, Santa Barbara. Dr. LaVallee completed her postdoctoral research at the American Red Cross Holland Laboratory.

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