Christian Martijn Schuerch: Predicting cancer immunotherapy response by highly multiplexed tumor imaging
Cancer immunotherapies have shown dramatic efficacy in subsets of patients with advanced cancer. However, >70% of patients do not benefit from these therapies. The risk of severe adverse effects is substantial and associated costs are enormous. Novel predictive markers are needed to stratify patients into probable responders and non-responders before therapy initiation. The tumor microenvironment (TME)--the main site of tumor-immune cell interactions--crucially regulates antitumoral immunity and immunotherapy response. We use highly multiplexed microscopy to thoroughly characterize TME cell types, their spatial interactions and the tumor architecture to predict patient response to immunotherapy in various cancers. So far, we could demonstrate that coordinated "cellular neighborhoods" play important roles in antitumoral immunity and that the spatial distances between effector immune cells, regulatory immune cells and tumor cells is associated with immunotherapy outcomes. For the future, we envision implementing more simplified spatial scores into clinical decision making to improve prediction for cancer immunotherapy.
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