November 12, 2019

Study holds promise to better predict immunotherapy responses in bladder cancer

Antwerp, Belgium (Nov 12, 2019) / PRNewswire – Today in Nature Medicine, researchers from Barts Cancer Institute (London), Queen Mary University of London together with pathologists from HistoGeneX (Belgium), a laboratory focused on tissue pathology and genomics, published findings that may significantly alter the treatment of bladder cancer. The current range of options for patients diagnosed with bladder cancer is narrow with the standard treatment of care based on surgical removal of the bladder (cystectomy). New therapies have been developed to reverse these immune checkpoints and expose a tumor to attack. These new findings indicate that it is possible to reawaken a patient’s own immune response to their bladder tumor.

In the study, 95 patients with invasive bladder cancer received two cycles of anti-PDL1 before their cystectomy was performed. The initial bladder biopsies collected for diagnosis were compared with the bladder resections to investigate the nature of the responses. When these bladder resections were examined, the tumor had completely disappeared in 31% of the cases.

Results demonstrated that the quantity and quality of the immune cell infiltration of the initial biopsies was strongly predictive of a good response to the treatment, while the non-responders often showed very specific defects that prevented successful immunotherapy. “We are currently mapping out all these response and resistance mechanisms,” says pathologist Dr. Mark Kockx, co-author and co-founder of HistoGeneX. The researchers assume that in the future it will be possible to predict which tumors will respond to immune therapy, therefore minimizing the need for bladder resection. The study was sponsored by Queen Mary University of London and funding was provided by the Roche imCORE initiative, a research network of 21 world-wide academic centers that share technology, data and expertise to advance the study of cancer immunotherapy. This imCORE Network project was funded by F. Hoffmann-La Roche.

About HistoGeneX

Founded by internationally recognized pathologists leading the shift to precision medicine, HistoGeneX provides pathology and biomarker assessment services spanning the drug development continuum. The company is employing 150 people. Privately held by Arsenal Capital Partners, HistoGeneX recently joined forces with Caprion Biosciences, a specialty CRO laboratory focused on biomarker research with cutting-edge expertise in immune monitoring and proteomics. The company leverages its facilities located in Antwerp (Belgium) and other facilities in Chicago (Illinois, USA) and Jining (Shandong, China) to provide a global network in immune-oncology clinical trials. For more information:

About Barts Cancer Institute

The Barts Cancer Institute (BCI) was created in 2003, and brought together some of the most eminent cancer research teams in London. As part of the Barts and The London School of Medicine and Dentistry, Queen Mary University of London, the BCI has one overriding objective, which is to ensure that the research conducted here is relevant to and will impact on cancer patients. Our seven Centres focus on how to reduce the burden of disease through increasing the chances of survival through early detection and diagnosis; and improve patient survival through the discovery and development of more effective and innovative therapies. For more information

Queen Mary University of London is among the UK’s leading research-intensive higher education institutions, with five campuses in the capital: Mile End, Whitechapel, Charterhouse Square, West Smithfield and Lincoln’s Inn Fields. A member of the Russell Group, Queen Mary is also one of the largest of the colleges of the University of London, with 17,800 students – 20 per cent of whom are from more than 150 countries. Some 4,000 staff deliver world-class degrees and research across 21 departments, within three Faculties: Science and Engineering; Humanities and Social Sciences; and the School of Medicine and Dentistry. Queen Mary has an annual turnover of £350m, research income worth £100m, and generates employment and output worth £700m to the UK economy each year.  For more information:

SOURCE HistoGeneX, Inc.

For further information: Mark Kockx, MD, PhD, Managing Director / Pathologist, HistoGeneX,
Phone: + +32 3 50 20 500,

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