Epinomics, Parker Institute to collaborate for cancer immunotherapy at Stanford University
Researchers from Epinomics will collaborate with the research team led by Crystal Mackall, M.D., director of the Parker Institute for Cancer Immunotherapy at Stanford, to utilize biomarkers defined by Epinomics’ immune intelligence framework to improve outcome and reduce adverse events in immunotherapy clinical trials.
"The insights from this work will serve to direct further improvements for these therapeutics that will be pursued at Stanford and the set of biomarkers will be employed in clinical use moving forward," said Fergus Chan, MBA, who co-founded Epinomics in 2013. "Joining forces with Dr. Mackall and her team at Stanford will enable us to bring precision medicine to these immunotherapies."
The Parker Institute for Cancer Immunotherapy at Stanford University opened in April thanks to a grant from the Parker Foundation, which was started by entrepreneur Sean Parker. "We are very excited to be collaborating with Epinomics," Dr. Mackall said. “I know we will benefit greatly from the expertise Epinomics has in the epigenomics field, including their analytics platform that is advancing therapeutic development efforts and discovery of biomarkers for use in clinical care for immuno-oncology applications.”
The epigenome ("the living genome") refers to any modification to the genome without changes to the DNA sequence, and it regulates what genes are turned on and off. If the genome, which shows what genes we have, is the hardware of our bodies, then epigenome is the software programming layer of our bodies. Because the epigenome dynamically responds to the environment and reflects one's current health state, it holds the key to personalized medicine.
Paul Giresi, Ph.D., another co-founder of Epinomics, noted that immunotherapy has been shown to be a promising approach for the effective treatment of cancer, including achieving long term remission in patients who have not responded to existing therapies. But to date there is no gold standard for the application or monitoring for this type of therapy.
“The key to unlocking this potential in immuno-oncology has been the development of a new technology for reading the epigenome and creation of a deep analytics framework that serves as a central intelligence hub for understanding immune function in human health and disease. Using this framework can derive measures (biomarkers) of immune function across both healthy baseline samples and disease to enable investigators to pinpoint the key immunological features that are the drivers of human disease and are predictive of clinical outcomes," Dr. Giresi said.