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Protagen, German Cancer Center Collaborate on Immunotherapy Biomarkers

NEW YORK (GenomeWeb) – Protagen said today that it is collaborating with the German National Center for Tumor Diseases (NCT) Heidelberg to identify biomarkers for predicting response to immunotherapy in melanoma patients.

The work will use Protagen's SeroTag platform, which simultaneously measures autoantibody levels for thousands of antigens to detect expression patterns linked to disease or patient response to particular therapies.

While "checkpoint inhibitors offer exciting potential to cure cancer patients… at least half of the patients with a metastasized melanoma do not benefit long-term," Jessica Hassel of NCT's dermato-oncologic department said in a statement. She added that while combination therapies can improve response rates, these treatments can trigger serious immune-related side effects.

"To overcome the challenges posed by [these side effects] and to better select the appropriate therapy for each patient, we must learn more about the immune system status of these patients in general and their production of specific autoantibodies," she said. "Utilizing Protagen’s SeroTag platform enables this insight and we look forward to this collaboration."

"Based on the link between immuno-oncology and autoimmune disease, it is a natural extension to apply our profiling approach to checkpoint inhibitors to address some of the most challenging questions in this field, Peter Schulz-Knappe, Protagen's chief scientific officer, added in a statement.

Financial and other terms of the agreement were not disclosed.