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OncoSec, UCLA Partner, Use PerkinElmer Tech to Develop Cancer Immune Response Biomarkers

NEW YORK (GenomeWeb) — OncoSec Medical, a company developing DNA-based intratumoral cancer immunotherapies, announced today that it is working with the University of California, Los Angeles and PerkinElmer to develop molecular biomarkers to measure patients' immune responses to cancer.

OncoSeq said that the effort will use PerkinElmer’s imaging-based staining methods to quantitatively evaluate CD8+ T cell density, with the goal of developing markers that can distinguish responders from non-responders to anti-PD-1 monotherapies.

Non-responders, the company believes, may benefit from combination treatment with both anti-PD-1 drugs and ImmunoPulse, a therapeutic strategy OncoSec is developing that involves delivery of a plasmid DNA construct with instructions to produce the IL12 protein into electroporated cells.

Researchers at UCLA led by Paul Tumeh have previously published on their work on CD8+ T cells and drug response in Nature, demonstrating a strong correlation between CD8+ T cell density in the invasive edge of melanoma lesions and the probability of response to Merck's Keytruda (pembrolizumab).

OncoSeq CSO Robert Pierce, who also participated in the Nature study, said in a statement that the group's prior research, combined with PerkinElmer’s technology, "may lead to the development of a critical diagnostic tool for identifying non-responders to anti-PD-1 monotherapy."

"We believe these non-responders may benefit from a combination approach of ImmunoPulse with checkpoint inhibitors, like anti-PD-1, where ImmunoPulse has the potential to convert non-responders to responders," he added.

OncoSec is currently investigating ImmunoPulse in malignant melanoma, cutaneous T cell lymphoma, and Merkel cell carcinoma.