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Serametrix, Penn State Working to Personalize Immunotherapy for Pediatric Brain Cancer


Penn State Hershey Children's Hospital and Serametrix will collaborate on developing a serum-based assay that will measure autoantibodies to help doctors predict which patients are likely to respond to a brain cancer immunotherapy being developed by the hospital.

The partnership, announced this week, is part of the Pediatric Cancer Immunotherapy Program at Penn State Hershey Children's Hospital. Within this program, researchers are developing new treatments for children with relapsed tumors that aim to bolster their immune response against cancer cells.

Under the collaboration, over the next year, Serametrix will analyze 100 serum samples from relapsed neuroblastoma and sarcoma patients enrolled in drug trials at the hospital. The research partners did not disclose the specific immunotherapy being studied in the clinical trials.

Serametrix, based in Carlsbad, Calif., develops technologies to detect serum changes that drug developers can use to develop tailored treatments. The company is specifically focused on discovering serum-based markers to personalize treatments for autoimmune diseases and cancer.

According to Serametrix's website, the company has developed panels of tumor antigens for predicting clinical response to drugs for cancers such as melanoma, colorectal cancer, breast cancer, and glioblastoma. These panels are available in multiplex miniaturized ELISA, bead-based assays, and "dipstick" and standard ELISA format, the company notes on its website.

Penn State researchers will use Serametrix's panel of cancer antigens for measuring autoantibodies in patient serum against gliobastoma, a Serametrix spokesperson told PGx Reporter.

"The antigens will be measured both by ELISA and in multiplex assay to determine levels of antibodies in each patient," the spokesperson said. "Penn State will use the immunoassay to look for changes in the humoral immune response in patients over the next year."

"We are learning a lot about why immunotherapy works in some patients but not others," Henry Hepburne-Scott, director of business development at Serametrix, said in a statement. "And it is increasingly evident that serum reactivity to certain tumor antigens can identify responsive patients even before treatment has begun," he added.

In a statement, Serametrix highlighted rising healthcare costs as a driver for exploring personalized medicine approaches to administering immunotherapies.

Although immunotherapies have shown efficacy in a variety of different cancers, they are costly and some patients don't respond to treatment. As such, when it comes to adopting these drugs into clinical practice, identifying which patients are likely to respond to treatment and avoiding unnecessary treatment in those who will not respond will lead to cost-effective adoption of immunotherapies.

The partners did not reveal the financial details of their collaboration.

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