Living Tumor Biopsies to Interrogate Immune Function and Response to Therapy

Investigator: Matthew F. Krummel, PhD
Sponsor: NIH National Cancer Institute

Location(s): United States


This project will define the critical criterion for biospecimen sample preparation and use for live-imaging analysis of the immune system within a patient's own tumor. It will facilitate a whole field of study using 2- photon imaging of human `live biopsies' for both immune-discovery but additionally to predict response-to- therapy in this very fast-moving therapeutic realm.

Treating the immune response within tumors is a major focus of new therapeutic development. For emerging therapies, there are clear responders and non-responders and at present, we are blind to knowing in how many ways the immune system is deficient. We are also unable to know which of the current or emerging therapies will work for a given patient. The current best-approach is to put each patient through a sequence of therapies before (hopefully) hitting upon one that works. In the future, we believe we will be able to tap the wealth of information that is contained in the just-excised biopsy of each patient. Each biopsy contains significantly more information than we currently glean in the form of the spatiotemporal cellular interactions that are taking place therein. Many immune activities continue to occur when biopsies are collected, maintained and imaged under appropriate conditions. We hypothesize that it is possible to study the functionality of the human tumor microenvironment `live' by the development of standard practices for `live biopsy'. If we are right, patient samples can be both characterized overall but also used as a test-bed for single or combinations of therapies to determine the most likely one to induce tumor rejection. Rare, small and information-rich human biospecimens will be directly and reproducibly studied and will be critical in next-gen discovery and diagnostic platforms. This study will define a serie of parameters by which biopsy samples can enter this important discovery stream.