Study identifies key proteins involved in immunotherapy response

‘Ultimately, it is all about understanding and treating patients better in the future.’

These are the words of Dr. Genevieve Boland, a surgical oncologist at the Massachusetts General Hospital and an assistant professor at Harvard Medical School. In a SelectScience interview, she describes how she has used Olink to investigate the low rate of response to immunotherapy in metastatic melanoma patients, as well as understand the biology of melanoma progression over time.

Current immunotherapy for melanoma is based on using immune checkpoint blockade inhibitor (ICB) monoclonal antibodies. ICB therapy targets immune checkpoints, which are normally activated to stop the immune system from attacking self-tissue or cells. Cancer cells can manipulate these checkpoints, however, to prevent the immune system from attacking them. ICB treatment blocks the checkpoints altogether, amplifying the host immune system to destroy cancer cells.

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By combining this data with transcriptomics, they were also able to pinpoint where these proteins came from to identify the cell types that contributed to a lack of response to therapy.

The success of this type of treatment varies, with many patients not responding to treatment at all. With the help of Olink, Dr. Boland and her colleagues are utilizing the plasma proteome to explore how the tumor microenvironment and immune system interact to build better predictors of response to immunotherapy.

Their most recent study used both the Olink Target and Olink Explore platforms to investigate the plasma proteome in a cohort of 116 and 202 melanoma cancer patients respectively as they underwent ICB treatment. They found over 200 differentially expressed proteins between responders and non-responders 6 months into treatment. By combining this data with transcriptomics, they were also able to pinpoint where these proteins came from to identify the cell types that contributed to a lack of response to therapy.

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Learn more about Dr. Boland’s work by reading the SelectScience editorial.

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Watch this webinar, presented by Arnav Mahta, to find out more about this ground-breaking melanoma study.

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Biomarker assays

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Protein data points generated

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