Policy & Regulation
Akoya, Johns Hopkins' Collaborative Agreement Supports Pioneering New Approach to Immunotherapy Biomarker Discovery and Validation
3 March 2021 - - US-based biotechnology company Akoya Biosciences, Inc has forged a collaboration with the Bloomberg-Kimmel Institute for Cancer Immunotherapy and the Bloomberg Center for Physics and Astronomy at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, the company said.

The agreement brings together Akoya's Phenoptics multiplex immunofluorescence platform for spatial phenotyping and Johns Hopkins' AstroPath platform, an interdisciplinary team of immunologists, pathologists, oncologists, and astrophysicists focused on immuno-oncology biomarker discovery and validation.

As part of the collaboration, researchers will develop, validate, and clinically implement novel spatial phenotypic signatures for immunotherapy and facilitate more effective drug development using Phenoptics technology.

Immunotherapies utilize the immune system to combat cancer and are revolutionizing the field of oncology. Despite this great progress, most patients do not respond to immunotherapy, creating a pressing need for clinically validated biomarkers that accurately predict which patients are likely to benefit from a particular treatment.

A recent multi-institutional study found that mIF, which preserves the spatial context of cellular expression and whole tissue architecture, more precisely predicts response to immunotherapy compared to gene expression profiling, tumor mutational burden, and current single-marker immunohistochemistry.

The Phenoptics mIF platform provides an end-to-end solution with the reproducibility, sensitivity, and throughput needed to overcome the biomarker challenge by turning spatial data into actionable intelligence.

The AstroPath program applies an innovative approach to analyze large mIF datasets by using celestial object–mapping algorithms to rapidly identify optimized predictive signatures.

The program leverages the principles of immunology, pathology, computer science, and astronomy to lay the foundation for rapid, efficient biomarker discovery.

The real power of the AstroPath platform comes from the unique combination of knowledge and skills of the principals involved Dr. Janis Taube, director of the Division of Dermatopathology, Dr. Drew Pardoll, director of the Bloomberg~Kimmel Institute for Cancer Immunotherapy, and Dr. Alex Szalay, Bloomberg Distinguished Professor in the Department of Computer Science, an avid astrophysicist and big data expert.

This collaboration lays out an integrated process for biomarker development from discovery to eventual clinical use.

Johns Hopkins will receive support to further develop its AstroPath biomarker platform and Akoya will work with AstroPath and its partners to convert AstroPath discoveries to standardized high-throughput assays for clinical and translational studies.

Together, the teams will help immuno-oncology groups within pharmaceutical and biotech companies take full advantage of biological information made available by multiplexed immunofluorescence, to accelerate development of new immunotherapies and commercialize predictive tests that can identify upfront those patients likely to respond to specific immunotherapies.

The latest findings from the AstroPath platform can be viewed in this virtual Science/AAAS presentation by Dr. Janis Taube and Dr. Alex Szalay.

Akoya Biosciences, The Spatial Biology company, offers solutions for high-parameter tissue analysis from discovery through clinical and translational research, enabling the development of more precise therapies for immuno-oncology and other drug development applications.

The company has two platforms designed to help investigators and researchers to gain a deeper understanding of complex diseases such as cancer and other immune system or neurological disorders.

The CODEX system is the only benchtop platform that can efficiently quantify more than 40 biomarkers and is ideally suited for biomarker discovery.

The Phenoptics platform is the only end-to-end multiplexed immunofluorescence solution with the robustness and high throughput necessary for translational research and clinical trials.