Thermo Fisher forms consortium to identify cancer immunotherapy biomarkers


Thermo Fisher Scientific has formed the Immuno-Oncology Consortium to enhance immunotherapy cancer research across Europe with next-generation sequencing (NGS) panels.

The consortium, which includes a group of clinical researchers from various European institutions, intends to adopt highly sensitive NGS for identifying predictive and prognostic biomarkers associated with immunotherapy of cancer.

As part of the new initiative, the firm has introduced the Ion AmpliSeq Immune Repertoire Assay Plus, TCR beta test, to detect multiple gene variants using a single panel.

The new test expands the firm’s liquid biopsy assays range designed for cell-free nucleic acid (cfNA) analysis in lung and breast cancer.

Thermo Fisher Scientific clinical next-generation sequencing and oncology product management vice-president Andy Felton said: "Thermo Fisher's growing portfolio of targeted NGS assays designed to simultaneously interrogate many informative biomarkers empower researchers with a robust and multi-disciplinary approach to drive discoveries across many cancer types.

"Our strategic collaborations across the globe help accelerate development of these technologies, so we are looking forward to kicking-off our Immuno-Oncology Consortium at the European Congress of Pathology meeting."

"Thermo Fisher's growing portfolio of targeted NGS assays designed to simultaneously interrogate many informative biomarkers empower researchers with a robust and multi-disciplinary approach to drive discoveries across many cancer types."

Formed in alliance with Germany’s University of Cologne Institute of Pathology’s Dr Sabine Merkelbach-Bruse, the consortium will initially focus on validation of the firm’s previous Oncomine Immune Response Research Assay.

The Ion Torrent Oncomine assay is designed to include lung cancer-associated fusion markers such as ALK, RET, and ROS1. It also involves DNA, RNA hotspots, copy number variants (CNVs), and MET exon 14 skipping.

The assay is developed to allow detection of primary tumour drivers and mutations that cause therapeutic resistance down to a 0.1% limit of detection from a single tube of blood.

Immuno-Oncology Consortium member Dr Bea Bellosillo said: "In our research, the Oncomine Colon cfDNA Assay and the Ion S5 System together presented next-generation sequencing, multi-biomarker approach that successfully detected genomic heterogeneity in 94% of the research metastatic colorectal cancer samples after anti-EGFR therapy.”


Image: Thermo Fisher Scientific researchers at work. Photo: courtesy of Thermo Fisher Scientific Inc.