Date and TimeTitle
Mar 30, 2021 (Eastern)
11:00am - 11:30am
Tissue Based Multiplex Assays and Companion Diagnostics

• Why are slide-based multiplex biomarkers an important consideration for Companion Diagnostic programs?
• What are important staining and scoring considerations for tissue based biomarkers for the modern Pathology laboratory workflow?
• What does the future of multiplexing look like?

Mar 30, 2021 (Eastern)
11:55am - 12:35pm
The Role of Biomarkers and Model Systems for Cancer Immunotherapies
Mar 30, 2021 (Eastern)
12:40pm - 1:20pm
Fireside Chat – Representative Sequencing for Whole Tumor Samples

Researchers have long since known that tumors are heterogeneous. While the heterogeneity may not be defined by sharp, distinct boundaries, regions can be determined by cells in the tumor that have distinguishable morphologies and phenotypes. Not only can heterogeneity confound characterizing the tumor for diagnostic assessment, it can present difficulties in prescribing effective treatment strategies. Recently, a consortium of researchers published results on a proposed representative sequencing, RepSeq, protocol to quantify heterogeneity throughout the volume of tumors. The protocol allows for a more thorough assessment of distinguishable, spatially distributed regions throughout tumors.

Mar 30, 2021 (Eastern)
1:25pm - 2:15pm
Keynote - Building New Clinical Solutions for Personalized Oncology via Proteogenomics

Personalized oncology aims to match each patient to a specific therapy based on the molecular characteristics of their tumor.  Currently, tumor DNA is sequenced, and genomics reports are given to physicians on tumor boards to help select targeted therapies for patients. While this approach has found success in extending the lives of subsets of patients, many patients do not respond to the selected therapy, and even those who do initially respond have a high chance of recurring as resistant disease.  Therefore, a deeper, more comprehensive readout of tumor biology is required in order to predict tumor phenotype with respect to drug response.

The majority of molecularly targeted therapies (e.g., kinase inhibitors, poly(ADP- ribose) polymerase (PARP) inhibitors, and therapies targeting immunomodulatory proteins) do not directly target the cancer genome but rather target proteins in cancer cells or the microenvironment. Thus, understanding and quantifying the expression of target proteins and their network throughout all phases of personalized oncology, from drug development to patient selection, are critically important.

This presentation will discuss the added value of proteogenomics over the current genome-driven approach to the clinical characterization of cancers and summarize current efforts to incorporate targeted proteomic measurements based on selected/multiple reaction monitoring (SRM/MRM) mass spectrometry into the clinical laboratory to facilitate clinical proteogenomics.  See also: Nat Rev Clin Oncol. 2019 16(4):256-268. PMID: 30487530

Mar 30, 2021 (Eastern)
2:20pm - 3:15pm
What Does the Future of CAR-T Hold?

Chimeric antigen receptors (CAR) are fusion proteins engineered from antigen recognition, signaling, and costimulatory domains that can be used to reprogram immune cells to specifically target tumor cells expressing specific antigens. CAR-T cells-based treatments have demonstrated dramatic curative potential in a subset of patients with refractory B cell malignancies. However, current CAR-T cell therapy still faces several challenges, including suboptimal persistence and potency, impaired trafficking to solid tumors, local immunosuppression within the tumor microenvironment and intrinsic toxicity associated with the CAR-T cell products.

To overcome these challenges, additional genetic engineering of CARs combined with synthetic biology and the use of combinational therapy are currently being investigated to provide cellular immunotherapy with novel attributes necessary to overcome its hypo-functionality, trafficking issues, and the immunosuppressive forces in the TME. In addition, efforts to enhance the safety profile of CARs with better spatial and temporal control of their activity and persistence after deployment are also under investigation.

This panel discussion will  focus on recent strategies to improve the clinical efficacy of CAR-T cell therapy and other exciting CAR approaches currently under investigation, including CAR natural killer (NK) products.

Mar 30, 2021 (Eastern)
3:20pm - 4:10pm
Why is 51 the Magic Number: Payers, Panels and Politics
  • Payers typically define large, multi-gene panels as those with 51+ genes. Discuss how the landscape is changing with respect to genomic signatures/pan-tumor biomarkers that require analysis of more genes.
  • Large, multi-gene panels are more than a summation of the number of genes – discuss additional services offered by specialty labs (eg, user interface, data services, integration, decision-support)
  • Many payers do not cover large, multi-gene panels and there is a high degree of variability as to how test coverage is assessed. Recommendations for solving these challenges?