Williams Cancer Institute

NanoString, Powerful Cancer Immune Profiling That Can Determine Immune Targets Guiding Precision Medicine

What if it was possible to analyze all the potential immune checkpoints, costimulatory molecules, and cellular aspects to guide the treatment of immunotherapy? NanoString, a DNA barcode-based immune profiler, has this capability. The data it provides is far ahead of what standard immunotherapies are typically available. However, this technology, as a research tool, can direct treatment options. This is for resaerch, so it is not used in standard patients. It is unlikely that patients would have this done unless they are in a research protocol. It has helped guide treatment, especially when you run into resistant cancers. We have seen several patterns in cancers that we treated. One is LAG3, an immune checkpoint that can inhibit an anti-cancer immune response. With the NanoString analysis that we performed, in many cases when tumors were pressured with PD-1 and CTLA-4 inhibitors, we would see a subsequent upregulation of LAG-3, which may play a role in suppressing the anti-cancer immune response. Of course, a LAG-3 inhibitor, Opdualag, is now available, with approval just over a year ago.

Another example is that in many cases, we also identified upregulation of B7H3, another critical checkpoint shutting down the immune response. These are just a few of the actionable changes in the immune profile of the cancer that we have identified with NanoString. Like the CIA, NanoString gives you all the intelligence you need to fight your enemy, in this case, cancer. Though it is currently limited for research, it should be an available analysis for all patients in the future, guiding the “precision” immunotherapy treatment of cancer.
NanoString’s immune profiling assays enable researchers to analyze the immune microenvironment of cancer samples comprehensively. The assays use the nCounter Analysis System to simultaneously measure the expression of hundreds of genes associated with immune cell types, checkpoints, and other immune-related pathways.

The PanCancer Immune Profiling Panel includes probes for 770 genes across 20 immune pathways and enables the analysis of the tumor-immune microenvironment in a wide range of cancer types. The panel provides a comprehensive view of the immune cell types and immune-related pathways involved in the tumor microenvironment, including the presence and activity of immune cells, expression of immune checkpoint genes, and other critical immune-related genes.

In addition, NanoString offers a range of other immune profiling assays, including the Tumor Inflammation Signature (TIS) Panel, which measures the expression of 18 genes that are associated with immune cytolytic activity, and the myeloid panel, which measures the expression of genes related to myeloid-derived suppressor cells and tumor-associated macrophages.

Overall, NanoString’s immune profiling assays offer a powerful tool for researchers studying the immune microenvironment of cancer and have the potential to improve our understanding of the immune response to cancer and to guide the development of more effective immunotherapies.
The Williams Cancer Foundation has purchased a new NanoString with NCounter and GeoMx, bringing patients the most advanced treatment options.
Jason R. Williams, MD, DABR
Chief of Interventional Immuno Oncology
Williams Cancer Institute
Author of: “The Immunotherapy Revolution”
Reference: Nanostring, 2022, www.nanostring.com

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