On March 3, 2014 Genocea Biosciences reported a joint research collaboration with Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and Harvard Medical School to characterize anti-tumor T cell responses in melanoma patients (Press release Genocea Biosciences, MAR 3, 2014, View Source [SID:1234500896]). This collaboration extends the use of the company’s proprietary ATLAS platform for the rapid discovery of T cell antigens to cancer immunotherapy approaches.
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"ATLAS has proven its value for the rapid discovery of promising vaccine antigens in the field of infectious diseases, enabling Genocea to take four programs in three infectious diseases from start to animal proof-of-concept in less than three years," said Chip Clark, president and chief executive officer of Genocea. "We believe this collaboration speaks to the promise of our ATLAS technology to discover a subset of antigens relevant to positive anti-tumor T cell responses in melanoma patients, which might form the basis for an effective immunotherapeutic. In addition, the information gained through this effort should provide useful data for patient-stratification in clinical trials, as well as potential applications for monitoring patients post-treatment."
The collaboration, sponsored by Ludwig Trust, includes Darren Higgins, Ph.D., in the Department of Microbiology and Immunobiology at Harvard Medical School, who originally devised the ATLAS technology, and the team of Stephen Hodi, MD and Glenn Dranoff, MD at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute. Drs. Hodi and Dranoff have investigated the biologic and anti-tumor activities of anti-CTLA-4 (anti- cytotoxic T lymphocyte-associated antigen-4) antibody therapy, which has been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for the treatment of advanced melanoma. This collaboration with Genocea is aimed at learning more about the immune responses stimulated with this treatment. In a Phase 1 study of this antibody therapy, certain subjects responded very favorably, while investigators did not see a clinically meaningful response with other subjects.
Dr. Higgins’ team will create a cancer antigen protein library for screening in ATLAS. The Dana-Farber team will obtain peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMC) from a subset of positive responders from the Phase 1 trial participants treated with the anti-CTLA-4 antibody. Genocea will then use the ATLAS platform to screen the protein library against the patient-derived immune cells to identify a small number of highly relevant T-cell antigens for further testing.
About the ATLAS (AnTigen Lead Acquisition System)
Genocea’s vaccine programs are built around the ATLAS platform for the rapid discovery of T cell antigens. T cell antigens, specifically antigens that stimulate CD4+ and CD8+ T cells, are critical to generating disease-specific cellular immune response and long-term T cell memory. At the core of ATLAS is a high throughput screening process that mimics the natural mammalian immune response to protein antigens. Critically, Genocea screens all of a pathogen or cancer-type’s proteins against T cells from human donors with diverse HLA types who have generated a potentially protective or ineffective immune response after exposure to a target pathogen or cancer antigen. As a result, ATLAS winnows what can be as many as several thousand protein antigens to a small number that correlate with immunity.