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SkylineDx, Flanders Institute of Biotechnology Partner to Validate Immunotherapy Response Biomarkers

This article has been updated with the funding amount for the POINTILLISM 2.0 project.

NEW YORK – SkylineDx on Monday said it will collaborate with Flanders Institute of Biotechnology (VIB) on a project to validate biomarkers of response to immune checkpoint blockade in cancer patients.

The project, dubbed POINTILLISM 2.0, is slated to begin this month and has €2.5 million ($2.7 million) in funding through the VIB Grand Challenges Program, the overarching aim of which is to advance socially impactful science. Researchers will work for the next three years to validate biomarkers discovered via single-cell technologies in SkylineDx's predecessor project POINTILLISM 1.0.

To do this, researchers will conduct four clinical trials in breast cancer, recurrent cervical carcinoma, head and neck cancer, and melanoma, in which patients will provide blood and tumor samples before and during treatment. Researchers will analyze these samples using single-cell multiomics technologies, build spatial maps of the tumor ecosystem, and draw on this data to identify predictive biomarkers of response and resistance to checkpoint inhibitors and propose combination regimens.

Rotterdam, Netherlands-based SkylineDx will collaborate with researchers from VIB, Katholieke Universiteit Leuven (KU Leuven), and the University Hospital Leuven. VIB-KU Leuven's Center for Cancer Biology will contribute its tumor microenvironment, cellular and molecular mechanisms of cancer, and business development expertise.

VIB expects that the work underway within POINTILLISM 2.0 will have a societal impact because there's a lack of biomarkers that predict which patients are likely to respond or develop resistance to therapy. If such biomarkers can be found, they might reduce healthcare expenditures by sparing non-responders severe adverse events associated with immune checkpoint inhibitor therapy that are costly to treat.

In 2021, researchers from KU Leuven and VIB published results of a study in which they identified markers of immunotherapy response based on single-cell RNA and TCR sequencing of samples from 40 patients with hormone receptor-positive and triple-negative breast cancer.

SkylineDx also has a 2020 collaboration agreement with Bioinvent International to develop predictive immunological signatures that identify patients who are likely to respond to Bioinvent's FcγRIIB-targeted drug BI-1206.