NEW YORK (GenomeWeb) – A team led by researchers at the University of Maryland and the National Cancer Institute has developed a gene expression-based predictor of response to immune checkpoint blockade therapy in metastatic melanoma patients.
In a study published yesterday in Nature Medicine, the scientists, led by senior author Eytan Ruppin and first author Noam Auslander, both of the Center for Bioinformatics and Computational Biology at the University of Maryland and the Cancer Data Science Lab at NCI, described their so-called immuno-predictive score (IMPRES), which can predict response of melanoma patients to checkpoint inhibitors with better accuracy than existing approaches.
“There is a critical need to be able to predict how cancer patients will respond to this type of immunotherapy,” said Ruppin in a statement. “Being able to predict who is highly likely to respond and who isn’t will enable us to more accurately and precisely guide patients’ treatment.”
Initially, the researchers focused on neuroblastoma, which often shows spontaneous regression in young children, mediated by cellular immunity. An immune-based predictor of such spontaneous regression, they reckoned, might also predict response to checkpoint inhibitors in melanoma patients.
Using transcriptomics data from 108 neuroblastoma patients, including some who spontaneously regressed and