Almac Group Discover an Exciting Link between its Immune Response Assay and Checkpoint Inhibitor Based Therapy

10 October 2016

Study Published in JNCI

Link between its Immune Response Assay and Checkpoint Inhibitor Based TherapyCraigavon, N.I., 10 October 2016 – Almac Group’s Diagnostics business unit today announced the identification of a novel immune response mechanism in breast tumours deficient in DNA repair. The study has been published in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute (JNCI).

The publication entitled ‘Activation of STING-Dependent Innate Immune Signalling By S-Phase-Specific DNA Damage in Breast Cancer’ follows on from Almac’s previous publication of a 44 gene immune based assay capable of prospectively identifying breast cancer patients with a defect in the FA/BRCA pathway who benefit from anthracycline based chemotherapy.

The current study explains the molecular basis of this 44-gene immune based assay and demonstrates that the genes in the assay reflect activation of the innate immune response cGAS/STING/TBK1/IRF3 pathway in response to DNA damage.

The study is particularly interesting because it provides a clear rationale for the observed link between DNA repair deficiency and activation of the immune checkpoint PD-L1. Almac will now pursue their 44-gene assay as a means of prospectively identifying breast cancer patients likely to respond to PD-L1 targeted therapies.

The study was performed in collaboration with Queens University Belfast. Dr Eileen Parkes, Academic Clinical Lecturer at the Centre for Cancer Research and Cell Biology at Queen’s University said: “This research provides a new way of explaining how immune cells are targeted to certain breast tumours, and could help decide which patients are most likely to respond to this new class of immune therapies. Approximately one third of breast cancers will have this immune-rich picture, therefore a huge amount of patients could benefit from this research.”

Professor Richard Kennedy, MD, PhD, McClay Professor in Medical Oncology, Queens University Belfast and VP and Medical Director, Almac Diagnostics commented “The study provides strong justification for the underlying biology that causes enhanced PD-L1 expression. Almac will now engage with pharma and academia to investigate the potential clinical benefit for predicting response to immune checkpoint inhibitors, such as PD-L1 and IDO1 and their use in combination with DNA damaging agents”.

About Almac Diagnostics

Almac Diagnostics is one of five business units operating under the ownership of the Almac Group.  The global personalised medicine company is focused on the discovery, development and commercialisation of diagnostic tests including companion diagnostics.  In addition, Almac Diagnostics has a pipeline of proprietary oncology based tests in development in therapeutic areas including breast, colon, ovarian, prostate and lung cancer.

About Almac Group

‘Partnering to Advance Human Health’

The Almac Group is an established contract development and manufacturing organisation that provides an extensive range of integrated services to the pharmaceutical and biotech sectors globally. The services range from R&D, biomarker discovery development and commercialisation, API manufacture, formulation development, clinical trial supply, IXRS® technology (IVRS/IWRS) through to commercial-scale manufacture.

The international company is a privately owned organisation that has organically grown over 40 years and now employs in excess of 4,500 highly skilled personnel. Almac is headquartered in Craigavon, Northern Ireland with operations in the UK, Ireland, across the US (Pennsylvania, North Carolina and California) and in Asia (Singapore and Tokyo).

https://www.almacgroup.com/diagnostics/