EUROSTARS grants project funding for IMMUNOMONITOR consortium led by ENPICOM
A total grant sum of EUR 2 million has been awarded to a multidisciplinary EUROSTARS consortium. The EUROSTARS project is titled “Treatment Response Monitoring for Cancer Immunotherapies Using Immune Repertoire Analysis” and named IMMUNOMONITOR.
This European consortium consists of five collaborating partners: ENPICOM (Netherlands), a bioinformatics and software engineering company; Biomax Informatics (Germany), a knowledge management solution company; Ultimovacs (Norway), a pharmaceutical company developing innovative vaccines for treatment of cancer; the lab of Prof. Binder of the University Medical Center Hamburg-Eppendorf or UKE (Germany); and OSE Immunotherapeutics (France), a biotechnology company developing innovative immunotherapies for immune activation and regulation in the fields of immuno-oncology and autoimmune diseases.
ENPICOM develops a T-cell/B-cell receptor (TCR/BCR) repertoire immunosequencing data analysis platform to support the development, patient stratification and treatment monitoring of immunotherapies. The goal of the IMMUNOMONITOR project is to validate the data analysis and visualization software solution for treatment response monitoring of cancer vaccines based on a unique approach to over-time immune repertoire sequencing data analysis.
While a growing number of immunotherapies have been approved, no adequate diagnostic tests are available to capture the desired immune response and to monitor if the therapy is effective in an individual patient. The consortium is addressing this unmet medical need with a software solution to capture and monitor a patient’s dynamic immune response over time using blood samples. Advances in Next-Generation Sequencing (NGS) allow taking ‘snapshots’ of a patient’s immune response by sequencing DNA or RNA from the patient’s immune cells (i.e. immune repertoire). The enormous diversity of immune repertoires results in a staggering amount of data, which cannot be handled by existing tools for NGS data analysis.
In the IMMUNOMONITOR project, advanced bioinformatics algorithms will be developed using NGS big data analysis to generate an ‘immune status fingerprint’ for monitoring cancer vaccines. The clinical validation studies will include two cancer vaccines tested in pancreatic cancer, lung cancer and malignant melanoma developed by OSE Immunotherapeutics and Ultimovacs, respectively.
Jos Lunenberg, CEO of ENPICOM, comments: “The collaboration will officially start today with a kick-off meeting in the Netherlands. We are extremely excited and happy to be working with this dedicated and highly motivated group of experts. This project is a great example of how a multi-disciplinary approach to healthcare can accelerate the process of translating technological innovation faster to patient benefits.” Professor Mascha Binder (UKE) is very pleased too and adds: “TCR/BCR repertoire data analysis is a new and powerful technology to analyze the immune status of patients and guide immunotherapies. Within this project we aim to prove its true value in treatment responses to cancer vaccines”.
The EUROSTARS program is a funding and support program, aimed at R&D-performing SMEs that wish to exploit the benefits that come with international collaboration. EUROSTARS applications pass through a highly-competitive selection process, being scrutinized by a panel of international research and business experts, to ensure that only the best business ideas and strongest partnerships get the support they need. It has been repeatedly shown that EUROSTARS helps businesses grown their teams, discover new expertise – and attract private investors. Within two years of completion the product of research should be ready for market introduction. The IMMUNOMONITOR consortium built and led by ENPICOM ranked number 52 in a total of 375 submissions.