Arkansas Patent of the Month – February 2023
The immune system is an essential player in the fight against cancer. It is designed to monitor for and eliminate cancerous cells; but sometimes cancer can escape the proper immunosurveillance. Metastatic cancer is a tumor that has spread beyond its original location, making it a particularly challenging form of cancer to treat.
Recent developments in immunotherapy have made great strides in treating cancer, particularly melanoma. Immune checkpoint inhibitors, such as anti-CTLA-4 and anti-PD-1, have shown remarkable results in a subset of metastatic cancer patients. These therapies block the immune-inhibitory receptors on activated T-cells, thus amplifying the immune response.
However, even when used in combination, approximately half of patients still suffer from disease progression, as these therapies do not work for everyone. It is currently impossible to predict which patients will respond to treatment with immune checkpoint inhibitors, and this remains a major challenge in the field of cancer research.
Researchers of BioVentures, LLC are now developing new methods for predicting the responsiveness of a cancer to immunotherapy. The methods involve obtaining a tumor sample from a subject and measuring the expression level of specific biomarkers in the sample such as H3K27me3 or one of 106 other identified proteins.
Based on the expression level of these biomarkers, the treatment dosage can be adjusted. For instance, if a sample proves particularly resistant to treatment, the treatment can be increased. If the sample shows a good responsiveness, they can safely move forward with treatment using that immunotherapeutic agent. The goal of these methods is to tailor cancer treatment to the individual patient, making it more effective and efficient.
BioVentures was established as a formal outgrowth of the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences‘ (UAMS) interest in promoting a biomedical technology industry for Arkansas and translating its research into products that benefit human health. UAMS established BioVentures to maximize global, industrial interaction with the University of Arkansas faculty, as well as to facilitate technology transfer, the development of startup companies that are based on technology developed at UAMS, and contributions to Arkansas’ economic development.
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