Product News: The German National Center for Tumor Diseases (NCT) Heidelberg and Protagen AG Investigate Responsiveness to Checkpoint Inhibitors in Melanoma

18 Jan 2017


The German National Center for Tumor Diseases (NCT) Heidelberg and Protagen AG have announced a collaboration to utilize Protagen’s SeroTag® technology to identify biomarkers that predict therapy responsiveness and the detection of immune-related adverse events (irAEs) in melanoma patients treated with checkpoint inhibitors.

Checkpoint inhibitors offer great potential for the treatment of many indications, including melanoma. Yet, only a subset of patients respond favorably to such treatment and it is not currently possible to predict who will benefit from the therapy in clinical routine. In addition, checkpoint inhibitors also trigger immune-related Adverse Events (irAEs) and even the onset of autoimmune diseases. Through this collaboration, Protagen and NCT will utilize Protagen's proprietary immune system profiling platform to predict response, monitor patients and detect immune related adverse events.

PD Dr. Jessica Hassel from the DermatoOncologic department of the Department of Dermatology and the NCT commented: “Checkpoint inhibitors offer exciting potential to cure cancer patients. However, at least half of the patients with a metastasized melanoma do not benefit long-term. Response rates can be increased via combination therapies such as a combination of ipilimumab and nivolumab, but such combinations also significantly increase the risk of suffering from sometimes serious irAEs, which have prevalence as high as 60% in these patients. To overcome the challenges posed by irAEs and to better select the appropriate therapy for each patient, we must learn more about the immune system status of these patients in general and their production of specific autoantibodies. Utilizing Protagen’s SeroTag® platform enables this insight and we look forward to this collaboration.”

Dr. Peter Schulz-Knappe, Protagen’s Chief Scientific Officer, added: “Our unique SeroTag® technology has already proven that it can be used to define homogeneous patient subgroups in autoimmune diseases with the potential to predict treatment response. Based on the link between immuno-oncology and autoimmune disease, it is a natural extension to apply our profiling approach to checkpoint inhibitors to address some of the most challenging questions in this field. We feel privileged that Dr. Hassel and the NCT share this view and we are excited about our collaboration.”