Analysis pairs up with immunotherapy

Shimadzu and Providence Cancer Institute team up to advance cancer immunotherapy research

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COLUMBIA, Md. & PORTLAND, Ore.—Shimadzu Corp. and the Earle A. Chiles Research Institute, a division of Providence Cancer Institute, have entered into a joint research agreement to apply mass spectrometry technology to develop tools for personalized cancer immunotherapeutics.
“In collaboration with Shimadzu, we want to build better diagnostics based on each patient’s unique tumor microenvironment,” stated Dr. Brian Piening, technical director of Clinical Genomics and assistant member of the Immune Omics Laboratory at Providence. “This will help inform clinical care with current immunotherapies and pave the way for the next generation of personalized immunotherapeutics.”
“After several discussions, [Shimadzu and Providence] decided to collaborate for the development of a novel strategy for cancer immunotherapy focusing on microenvironment,” says Dr. Takashi Shimada, R&D manager, Shimadzu Bioscience Research Partnership, Shimadzu Scientific Instruments (SSI). “With the cooperation and support of Dr. Bernard Fox and Dr. Yoshinobu Koguchi, I drafted the entire study concept of the research strategies and the plan of a new Shimadzu bioscience lab/equipment in Bothell, Wash.”
Shimadzu and Providence plan to develop technologies to reliably identify cancer antigens recognized by an individual’s immune system, and to analyze the pharmacokinetics of immunotherapy drugs. The companies share a goal of bringing these novel diagnostics to early clinical application.
“For the new strategy of cancer immunotherapy, we focus on two approaches. One approach is to elucidate pharmacokinetic behavior of therapeutic antibodies (mainly immune checkpoint inhibitors) in circulation and tumor tissues. Precise antibody monitoring of the distribution at the tumor site will be able to apply for the novel development of individualized dosing method. The other approach is to determine the cancer antigen peptides on human leukocyte antigen (HLA),” Shimada adds. “The technology to identify new antigen peptides that respond to immune cells with high efficiency will be applicable to prediction of therapeutic efficacy, cell therapy and vaccine development.”
“The most attractive feature of mass spec is the simultaneous and multiplex analysis of biological molecules with high selectivity/sensitivity from clinical samples,” he explains. “With appropriate approaches and sample processing methods, this is far superior to other analytical technologies. The appropriate level of antibody dosage in each cancer treatment is still unclear. Our aim is to provide these criteria for precise therapy and cost. Combining with current information of cancer biomarkers and oncogenes, this criterion is determined from antibody pharmacokinetics, HLA peptides and immune cell distribution, and is an important signature in individualized medicine. And we want to promote our business of mass spec and related reagents/consumables in cancer immunotherapy area of U.S. and global market from 2020.”
“We have an original method for monoclonal antibody analysis, nSMOL (nano‐surface and molecular orientation limited proteolysis) technology, published by Dr. Iwamoto of Shimadzu. This is a novel Fab‐selective proteolysis that is independent of a variety of monoclonal antibodies, and makes it easy to determine the antibody level in many biological samples. Based on the nSMOL technology, we will develop a new method for antibody monitoring in cancer tissue from biopsy, resection and formalin-fixed paraffin-embedded (FFPE) tissues,” Shimada continues. “And for cancer antigens, we will develop an identification method of HLA peptides using a peptidomics and bioinformatics platform. Since the determination of HLA peptides essentially requires a data science approach, we will integrate the information provided by Providence genetic analysis from clinical patients with mass spec data.”
SSI plans to direct the collaboration through the company’s Innovation Center in Columbia, Md., and a new bioscience laboratory in Canyon Park in Bothell.
“It is a great honor that Shimadzu mass spectrometry can contribute to cancer immunotherapy pioneered by Dr. James Allison and Dr. Tasuku Honjo. At the minimum, the possibility that our mass spec technology could be applied to diagnostic techniques in cancer immunotherapy is a major motivation for us,” Shimada remarks. “We will continue to apply new developments and make many medical contributions with our best effort.”
SSI has also recently introduced to the market a new UV-i group of UV-Vis spectrophotometers, which are designed to provide improved quality control productivity, data analysis and management, and operating efficiency. The new series consists of six models: UV-1900i, UV-2600i, UV-2700i, UV-3600i Plus, SolidSpec-3700i and SolidSpec-3700i DUV.
The six spectrophotometers in the series include an automatic pass/fail determination for improved efficiency. The systems are equipped with a spectral evaluation function in the software that automatically determines whether data satisfies specified criteria. This function reportedly helps to improve the efficiency of quality control operations by eliminating the manual data analysis steps needed after spectra are acquired.
The UV-i spectrophotometers also include automatic measurement for improved operating efficiency. By connecting an autosampler unit, the systems can analyze up to 360 samples automatically. When used in combination with the spectral evaluation function, the entire process—including pass/fail determination—can be fully automated. Shimadzu also says that the new spectrophotometers will improve data analysis and data management.

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