immuno therapy

The Impact of Spatial Technology on Childhood Cancers with David Steffin, Texas Children's

David Steffin is a cancer researcher and physician at Texas Children's whose particular focus is on pediatric cancers. He begins today’s program with some interesting numbers.

The international community has made a lot of progress in childhood cancers over the past few years. In the ‘60s and ‘70s, the survival rate of pediatric leukemias was 5-10%. Now it’s greater than 90%, and higher in some subtypes. It’s not as good in solid tumor types, but still much better than it was, around 60 to 70%. David is focused on the hardest to fight—those solid tumor cancers with survival rates below 30%.

To go where no researcher has gone before, David is turning to the latest tools for help. Today he shares with us the impact of new spatial biology technology on his work, offering a close look “under the hood.”

How are the new high-resolution images of spatial technology leading him to new biomarkers? What does the so-called mapping of this new technology tell him—how does it help to know the proximity of certain exhausted T cells, for example, to certain parts of the tumor?

It’s an exciting time for researchers using this new technology. How is the spatial community developing and sharing their data and working together in real-time?

Thanks to Akoya Biosciences for sponsoring David's show and our first series on spatial biology.  

Spatial Biology Enables The Cancer Immunome Project

We’ve all heard of and perhaps worked with data from The Cancer Atlas Project. Now, with the help of new spatial biology tools, researchers at the Mayo Clinic are developing what they call The Cancer Immunome Project. This is a comprehensive effort to fully characterize the immune system and how it interacts with and fights off cancer.

Today we talk with J C Villasboas, a physician-scientist at Mayo who co-started the project. He’s also Director of Mayo’s Immune Monitoring Core Facility.

J C says the immune system is of such complexity that it took the new tools of spatial biology—tools able to measure multiple biomarkers in real-time -- to be able to tackle such a project.

“We layer on top of the multi-parametric data which gives the cell some kind of identity, the spatial data because context in immunology is everything. It’s like real state,” he says. “And then we try to make sense of the spatial biology itself. And you can’t achieve that level of detail with a single or even two or three biomarkers. You have to have a technology which provides not only the depth but also the breadth of the immune system’s complexity.”

This raises some questions. Will the data from the project be widely available for the community? Are there efforts underway to standardize the data as there have been in the past with single marker platforms? And that all-important question, what is the path to the clinic for the new multiplexed assays?

As a practicing oncologist, J C is excited about the answer to this last question and the unmet clinical needs that will be satisfied: much faster turnaround, less tissue needed, and the ability to work at tough marginal areas.

Hallelujah! A Universal Flu Preventative and Therapy with Jeff Stein, Cidara

As another summer winds down, another flu season approaches. Yuuuk. When will we be able to stop living in fear of that crowded plane flight in winter months or waking up congested and wondering . . . dreading, “am I coming down with a cold?”

Yes, we get that annual flu vaccine shot, but each year we still get the bug. Until now, a real universal flu vaccine has eluded drug makers, and having the flu goes on being just part of life. But it doesn't have to be.

Today we talk with a company who is close to not a universal flu vaccine, but what they call a universal preventative.

Jeff Stein is the CEO of Cidara Therapeutics. Their technology is an immuno therapy which not only prevents all flus, but is a therapy as well in case you've already caught a bug.

Finally! Who isn’t rooting for this company?!

It’s a Gold Rush in Single Cell Genomics, Says Joachim Schultze, U of Bonn

The title says it all here. Herr Professor Schultze directs a major facility that he calls a single cell genomics platform. They have most of the single cell technologies available and partner with labs from all over the world on research.

Advances in single cell technologies are changing basic research and also delivering results for translational work in everything from immunology to obesity.

“Biology will never be the same again,” says Joachim.

Dr. Schultze is also heavily involved in epigenomics. He says that despite the ups and downs in this field, it still holds some exciting promise.

Talking to a leading genomicist in Germany, we ask for an outsider's view on our American approach to genomics.