On August 10, 2011, researchers at the University of Pennsylvania published two groundbreaking studies in the New England Journal of Medicine and Science Translational Medicine on a potential cure for leukemia.
Dr. Walter J. Urba of the Providence Cancer Center in Portland, Oregon, and editorialist at The New England Journal of Medicine called the findings “pretty remarkable.”
The Role of ImmunoSEQ
To help analyze their data and validate their results, the scientists used a revolutionary immune profiling assay called immunoSEQ.
Dr. Michael Kalos, one of the lead researchers and Adjunct Associate Professor of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine, explained, “The immunoSEQ service has fundamentally changed how my lab does analysis of our clinical trials. I’m very impressed with its ability to provide such a granular view of T cells and B cells present in samples.”
Using ImmunoSEQ’s high-throughput immune profiling assay, Dr. Kalos and his colleagues used the technology to survey the entire IgH repertoire in two patients, confirming the results obtained using traditional but lower resolution methods to study the B cell receptor repertoire in these patients.
The cancer clone was readily detected in these patients both before treatment and after the preinfusion conditioning regimen, at frequencies greater than 90%. The high sensitivity of the ImmunoSEQ assay was able to detect the early stages of normal B cell proliferation at 176 days after infusion in one patient, showing a diverse repertoire consistent with normal reconstitution.
Using ImmunoSEQ, the percentage of the overall B cell repertoire that consists of the cancer clone as opposed to normal healthy cells can be evaluated at regular time points with a high degree of precision.
Acknowledging immunoSEQ and the immunoSEQ Team
In the published report, the research team, which also included renowned scientist Dr. Carl June, Director of Translational Research at the Abramson Cancer Center at the University of Pennsylvania, specifically thanked members of the immunoSEQ team and cited the importance of the technology in their work:
“We are grateful to C. Desmarais and H. Robins at Adaptive TCR for their excellent assistance with IgH immune profiling, which was performed as a service by ImmunoSEQ. Additionally, ImmunoSEQ provided a cloud-based suite of computational analysis tools (ImmunoSEQ Analyzer) that we used for data interpretation.”
The study reports the results from 3 patients with chronic lymphocytic leukemia who had relapsed after receiving chemotherapy. The first and second leukemia patient appear cancer-free at one year after treatment. The condition of the third patient has improved but some evidence of cancer is still detectable. The scientists used a novel method to introduce new genes into patients’ T cells, adding an additional signaling mechanism to instruct the patient’s T cells to hunt and destroy their cancer cells.
While the size of the study was small, and Dr. Urba adds a note of caution, “It’s just three patients,” the potential for a long-term cure is promising.
And for immunoSEQ and its role in the research, Dr. Kalos offers, “I recommend it all the time to my colleagues.”
The published reports can be found here:
A brief listing of the news articles covering the reports: