Written by: Steve Piccoli, Chief Science Officer
Recent published results (AACR 2018 and NEJM) from the Merck KEYNOTE-189 trial in non-squamous non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) proved to be very exciting in the world of oncology. The study showed that patients treated with pembrolizumab (Keytruda™) plus chemotherapy had significantly longer overall survival (OS) and progression-free survival (PFS) compared with those who received chemotherapy alone, meeting both its primary endpoints.

Great news for patients! But, could this be even better news?

Pierian Bioscience’s ChemoINTEL platform is designed to determine the sensitivity of tumor cells to an array of chemotherapeutic drugs, including the two (carboplatin and cisplatin) chosen at the discretion of the treating physician in the trial. Neither drug is 100% effective in treating NSCLC, but one may be more or less effective than the other in an individual patient. Rather than assigning the drug by chance as was done in this study, if quality information regarding the activity of both is available before treatment is even begun, such as that generated by ChemoINTEL, then the more appropriate and effective therapy can be directed to the patient.  This would have the effect of improving patient outcomes and the overall success rate of the therapy—let alone improving the results of the clinical trial.

Analogously, ImmunoINTEL was devised to inform on the detailed immune response state of the tumor undergoing treatment. This is important as the immune response to tumors is quite complex. Normally, cells of the immune system can inhibit tumor growth and progression through the recognition and rejection of malignant cells, a process referred to as immunoediting. Frequently, tumors have altered the normal immunological responses in order to escape detection and elimination. This can also promote tumor cell growth and survival through the induction of oncogenic inflammation. Thus, a more detailed analysis of the relationship between tumors and the immune system can help to determine which immune-oncology drug might be most effective, and whether or not a particular patient will respond to the biotherapeutic of choice.

Together, ChemoINTEL and ImmunoINTEL may help to positively impact the approach to cancer treatment for both patients and providers in an effort to deliver on the promise of personalized medicine: the right treatment for the right patient at the right time.

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