Cancer immunotherapies are a type of treatment that acts by modulating the immune system’s natural responses, either by potentiating its action against cancer cells and/or by inhibiting immunosuppressive mechanisms — the latter frequently hijacked by cancer cells to abrogate anti-tumor responses. The therapeutic potential for cancer immunotherapies is increasingly recognized. However, there is the need to identify which cancer patients can actually benefit from a certain type of immunotherapy. This is typically detected by finding biomarkers, i.e., molecules that are measurable and specifically associated with a certain phenotype, like a disease state or response to a drug treatment. The attempts for finding biomarkers, however, still falls short — for example, measuring patients’ programmed cell death 1 ligand 1 (PDL1) expression levels in tumors is unable to determine how patients will respond to anti-PDL1 immunotherapies.
Determined to foster the discovery of immunotherapy biomarkers, Pfizer initiated a partnership with Adaptive Biotechnologies, a pioneer company in immunosequencing technology of patients’ T and B cells repertoire. By measuring patients’ immune response before and after cancer with Adaptive Biotechnologies leading technology, Pfizer will prompt the company immuno-oncology pipeline and accelerate biomarker and drug development programs.
Chris Boshoff, Vice President and Head of Early Development, Translational and Immuno-Oncology at Pfizer Oncology commented in a press release, “Immunotherapy is one of the most important advances in cancer therapy and offers the potential for long term disease control for many patients. Pfizer is investing significantly in this space. The collaboration with Adaptive Biotechnologies supports our strategy of accelerating the development of potentially innovative new combination treatments by allowing us to develop a differentiated and competitive understanding of the immune landscape in specific tumor types.”
Chad Robins, President, Chief Executive Officer and Co-Founder at Adaptive Biotechnologies added, “This collaboration with Pfizer is evidence of the immense impact immune repertoire profiling may have on the immuno-oncology space. Adaptive’s ability to precisely measure a patient’s immune response to cancer before and after treatment provides a universal tool that will help bolster our understanding of immuno-oncology approaches.”