Category Archives: Omixon

Omixon’s Role In Immunotherapy Development

By: Libertas Academica

Cancer has become one of the leading causes of deaths in the west. This has led to the development of various campaigns aiming to find a cure for breast cancer and other common types. Such campaigns are now among the largest businesses in modern medicine. Battling a lethal disease such as cancer is a huge endeavor which entails the best treatments.

In today’s modern world, one of the most powerful treatments for cancer is immunotherapy. The FDA approved the first antibody treatment in 1997. Since then, a dozen more have been approved, widening the range of treatments available to fight cancer.

The development of immunotherapy highly depends on the analysis of genetic data. These data are used by researchers to better understand and develop the cancer treatments. Omixon plays a huge role in this process. Our specialized products help with the study of the Human Leukocyte Antigen genomic region through the use of Next Generation Sequencing data.

Cancer: The Body Working Against Itself

Cancer works in peculiar ways. Though usually triggered by external factors, the cancer itself is caused by the human body’s everyday functions running amok. Bodily processes which have evolved over millions of years to protect us suddenly turn things around; cancer cells begin to grow and spread from our very flesh, working against the genetic coding that maintains order within our body.

There are several types of cancer. But whether it is lung cancer, prostate cancer or ovarian cancer, the disease works basically in the same manner. The genetic material in the affected region changes, which leads to a reduction in the body’s regulation of tissue growth. This can affect the oncogenes responsible for the reproduction and growth of cells. This leads to a rapid growth of cancer cells. Cancer can also be due to the tumor suppressor genes failing to do their job of limiting the lifespan and reproduction of cells to a certain threshold. It only takes one cancer cell to begin this whole process, ultimately leading to various symptoms such as weight loss, internal bleeding, organ failure and death.

Does The Immune System Battle Cancer?

What makes cancer such a deadly disease is its ability to slip through the body’s defense mechanisms. The immune system usually does a great job of detecting foreign elements that pose a threat to the body. But since cancer cells are made by the body itself, the immune system tends to ignore them. Without using modern cancer regimens, the body will have no chance of fighting back.

This is where immunotherapy as well as the support Omixon provides comes in.

What Is Immunotherapy?

Immunotherapy—also called immune enhancement therapy—is a treatment for cancer which works by helping the immune system identify and battle cancer cells.

Antibody therapies are the most successful forms of immunotherapy. Through the use of antibodies, the immune system is able to create proteins which latch onto cells. These antibodies are externally produced. When introduced to the body, they attach to cancer cells and then use different methods to destroy them and ultimately kill the disease. In cell-based therapies, doctors remove immune cells typically from the affected region of the patient. Cancer-fighting cells are then activated, grown outside the patient’s body and re-introduced to the system. This provides the body with the necessary cells that are capable of defeating the elusive cancer cells.

Cancer vaccine is another form of antibody therapy. To stimulate the immune system’s function of fighting diseases, specific cancer antigens can be used. These antigens may be introduced to the surface of T cells, an important part of the immune system which is associated with certain HLA molecules. Depending on the genetic profile of the patient, these antigen-HLA complexes can be used to improve existing cancer vaccines.

Omixon: Cutting Edge Technology For Immunotherapy Development

Omixon focuses on the analysis of the HLA region. Our reagents and software enable scientists to analyze genetic data required for the development of cancer vaccine. This is not only useful for cancer research and determining the intricacies of how the disease works. It helps significantly in identifying the early signs of cancer and providing patients with personalized treatments specifically designed to cater to their needs and fight their particular symptoms.

In order to analyze large amounts of complex data, the latest and most accurate equipment need to be used. Known for using some of the most innovative technologies in the world, our company uses software that allow very accurate analysis and genotyping. Be it running clinical trials, analyzing samples to determine how a patient responds to immune therapy, or performing the most advanced research methods for drug discovery, we can provide the best tools to improve immunotherapy.

Cancer biomarkers

When tackling any disease, the first step is to learn what signals its presence and what else these signs can mean. In discussing cancer, these signs are referred to as cancer biomarkers. Some organisations define a biomarker as a molecule that the cancerous tumor has secreted into the body, a direct bi-product of the presence of the disease. But others have a broader definition, using the term biomarker to describe both these molecules and the range of chemical and biological reactions produced by the body as it finds itself under attack from within.

The ability to search out these markers is vital both to the treatment of cancer and to research into the most effective cures. So what role does a marker like this play in cancer research and medicine?

Biomarkers in cancer medicine

There are a range of different uses of biomarkers in the treatment of cancer.

Assessing risk

Biomarkers can come into play before someone even becomes a patient. Certain biological signs, in particular the presence of specific sets of genes, can indicate that a person will be particularly prone to a certain sort of cancer. Testing people with a family history of cancer can give them a warning if they are likely to suffer from the disease, and so take steps to prevent it.

Rather than allow cancer to emerge and flourish unnoticed through the natural course of events, someone who knows that they are genetically at risk can make preventative changes. They can alter parts of their lifestyle likely to trigger the cancer they are predisposed to, and which while safe for others might be potentially dangerous for them. They can also seek regular testing for cancer, catching it early if it arises and so allowing more effective treatment of the cancer.

Diagnosis

Biomarkers can be tested to identify the presence of cancer and to tell doctors more about the way it is developing. This is particularly useful in determining whether a second cancer is the result of circulating tumor cells from the first, or whether it has taken root in the body independently.

Prognosis and treatment predictions

Because they can provide a lot of information about the disease, biomarkers can be used to create a prognosis for the cancer and to predict the likely impact of any given treatment. Certain biomarkers are associated with better survival rates or cancers that respond well to particular treatment. If the doctor treating a patient knows that their cancer shows particular features, and that a drug targets cancers with those features, then the chances of successful treatment dramatically increase. Equally, if they can tell that a patient will have trouble metabolising a drug then they can choose a more suitable alternative.

Monitoring the effectiveness of treatment

A lot of research is currently underway into the use of biomarkers as a sign of how effectively a treatment is working. As the cancer causes particular biomarkers, and the body produces others in response, a rise or fall in their presence can be a sign of progress. Other ways of monitoring treatment are often costly and take up equipment that could be used for other patients, so biomarkers could save hospital resources and thus lives.

Recurrence

Some biomarkers provide indicators of whether cancer is likely to recur. This can help in deciding how closely to monitor a patient after treatment has ended.

Biomarkers in cancer research

Given their importance in cancer treatment, it is hardly surprising that biomarkers play a significant role in cancer research.

Developing drug targets

Biomarkers can be a sign of a particular symptom or cause of cancer. By finding these connections, researchers can work out what causes and risks they need to treat, and develop drugs to tackle them.

Surrogate endpoints

In trials of cancer drugs, as in those for other medicines, it is not always possible to see the disease through to its finish, whether that is a cure or the failure of the drug and so the patient’s death. In the latter case in particular, trials may need to be stopped and new treatment begun.

Cancer testing is particularly challenging, as the long duration of the disease can prevent testing through its whole course, and invasive biopsies are often the only way to directly examine a patient’s cancer.

Given these issues, biomarkers are often used as stand-ins signifying whether or not a treatment is working. If the biomarkers indicate that the treatment is affecting the cancer then researchers can avoid the need for long trials or direct inspection of the tumor.

Analysing the results

Whatever biomarkers you are using, and whatever the purpose, you need a way to reliably analyse the data. With our specialist skills in the analysis of targeted Next Generation Sequencing (NGS) data, Omixon can help both scientists and clinicians to better analyse and understand the markers on display.

 

Patient stratification in clinical trials

When carrying out clinical trials, one of the most important logistical and statistical challenges is ensuring that your data accurately reflects the population you are setting out to study. None of us has the resources to test a drug on the entire human race, but if we want to have confidence in the results then we need to test it on a group that reflects the drug’s potential patients.

Of course a clinical trial of a drug for use on the elderly only needs results that reflect its effects on the elderly, and the same for any treatment with a specific patient pool. But whatever the group of patients you are aiming for, you want to ensure that the results accurately predict what will happen once the drug goes into use. This is where patient stratification comes in.

Patient stratification

Stratification is the division of your potential patient group into subgroups, also referred to as ‘strata’ or ‘blocks’. Each strata represents a particular section of your patient population.

For example, patients could be divided up according to age, gender, ethnicity, social background, medical history, or any other factor that you consider relevant.

Groups of subjects are then included in the clinical trial to match each of these groups within the patient population. So a study into the intersection of genetics & medicine that is immunotherapy might need to include groups from different ethnic backgrounds and genders, to take into account genetic variations.

With the strata established, different approaches can be taken to identify suitable test subjects.

Stratified randomization

Stratified random sampling, or stratified randomization, uses random selection within each strata in an attempt to ensure that no bias, deliberate or accidental, interferes with the representative nature of the patient sample.

Potential test subjects for a strata are identified, and those to be used in the trial are picked at random from that group. Whatever search tool you have used to identify possible test subjects, you can use your data & software to randomise your choices.

Stratified randomization is often the most straightforward way to produce an accurate sample.

Stratified proportionate sampling

Clinical trial services also make use of stratified proportionate sampling to ensure representative tests.

Stratified proportionate sampling, which can be combined with randomized stratification, is a way of ensuring that the test population represents the wider population without the need for further statistical manipulation. The percentage of subjects taken from each strata is proportionate to the percentage of the population in that strata. So if seventy percent of the likely patients are female then seventy percent of the test subjects would be female, and so on for other stratification factors.

Proportionate sampling is not necessary to ensure valid results, as the impact of different strata on the overall picture can be factored in mathematically. But it removes the need for that extra statistical step.

Disproportionate stratification

Disproportionate sampling is an approach to stratification in situations where a particular strata represents a very small proportion of the population, and so testing them proportionately might not provide valid results.

For example, if a test is set up using a thousand subjects, and one percent of the target population is over sixty, then a proportionate sample would include only ten test subjects over sixty. But while the test population as a whole might be large enough to draw reliable conclusions about the impact of the drug, the small sample in that age group would prevent reliable conclusions about its impact on them. Perhaps the researchers might be particularly concerned about the effect of their drug on those reaching retirement, or just want to make sure that each strata is properly tested. In that case they could take a disproportionate sample from the over sixty group – say one hundred subjects – and then manipulate their data so that those subjects’ results only had a one percent impact on the overall conclusions.

Quota vs convenience

However sophisticated the alignment search tool you use on your genetic data, the results may not be useful if you haven’t used the right pool of test subjects from the start. This sort of problem is why patient stratification, and the use of randomization within it, is so vital for researchers.

Taking a test sample based on who is easily available can save on cost and effort, but it fundamentally undermines the results. If you want your research to be accurate, relevant and usable in medicine then you need to apply stratification, and to have the right tools available to analyse the results.

Here to help

Omixon is here to help with that analysis. Our software, some of the fastest and most accurate in the field, will ensure that your data is quickly turned into usable results. So put your effort into getting the sample right, and let us take the effort out of processing it afterwards.

 

Immunotherapy

Cancer has become one of the biggest killers in the western world. High profile campaigns to tackle breast cancer and other common types have ensured that it is also one of the biggest businesses in modern medicine. To fight a high profile killer you need the best of cures.

Immunotherapy is one of the most powerful cancer treatments available in the modern world. Though the first antibody cancer treatment was only approved by the FDA in 1997, since then a dozen have become available, providing a growing range of treatments with which to battle cancer.

The development of cancer immunotherapy relies on the analysis of genetic data, so that researchers can better understand and improve on treatments. Omixon is proud to play a role in this process, through our specialised products for the analysis of targeted Next Generation Sequencing (NGS) data.

Cancer: the body battling itself

There’s a tragic poetry to the workings of cancer. Though it can be triggered by an outside factor, the cancer itself comes from the human body’s normal functions running amok. Systems evolved over millions of years to keep us safe instead turn upon us, cancer cells growing from our own flesh and the genetic coding that orders the body.

There are many types of cancer, but whether it’s lung cancer, ovarian cancer or prostate cancer, the way the disease works is essentially the same. Your body’s regulation of tissue growth falters in the affected region, due to changes in genetic material. This can involve a change to the oncogenes responsible for the reproduction and growth of cells, leading growth to run wild. Alternatively it can come from a failure of the tumour suppressor genes which restrain the lifespan and reproduction of cells to an appropriate level. It just takes one cancer cell to begin a process whose impact includes weight loss, bleeding, organ failure and eventually death for the patient.

Cancer and the immune system

Part of what makes cancer so deadly is that it slips through the body’s normal defence mechanisms. The human immune system has evolved to identify and attack foreign elements that can harm the body. But because cancer cells are made up of the body itself this immune response does not kick into action. Without the support and treatment provided by modern cancer regimens, the body is unlikely to fight back.

That’s where immunotherapy, and the support provided by Omixon, comes in.

How immunotherapy works

Immunotherapy, also referred to as immune enhancement therapy, is a cancer treatment that works by helping and guiding the immune system in battling cancer.

The most successful forms of immunotherapy are antibody therapies. These use antibodies, proteins created by the immune system that can latch onto cells. Externally produced antibodies are introduced to the patient’s system and latch onto the cancer. There they use a number of different methods to destroy the cancer cells and so fight the disease.

Cell-based therapies start with doctors removing immune cells from the patient, usually from the blood or the cancerous area. Cells specifically capable of fighting the cancer are then activated, grown outside of the body, and returned to the patient’s system. This cell transfer directly provides the body with the weapons that it needs to fight that cancer.

Cytokine therapies, like antibody therapies, rely on the production and use of proteins. But whereas antibodies directly attack the cancer, cytokines regulate the immune system. Their introduction can be used to enhance the immune system, encouraging the whole system in its fight against disease.

Where Omixon fits in

All of these therapies are built on understanding the genetic sequence of human bodies, in particular the cells responsible for causing and for fighting cancer. This is a complex process and an extremely data-heavy one. The human genetic code is an amazingly vast repository of information, and every person’s genes are different. Identifying the patterns of code responsible for any given function of cell reproduction or the immune system is a huge task.

Omixon specializes in the analysis of targeted Next Generation Sequencing (NGS) data. Using our Target application suite we help scientists and doctors to analyse the genetic data at the heart of cancer treatments. This isn’t just useful for research and for understanding the broad picture of how cancer works. It is vital to work in identifying early signs of cancer, and in providing personalised treatment suited to the needs of a particular patient and their particular cancer.

Vast pools of complex data require fast, accurate and above all up to date equipment to ensure that they are properly understood. A global company specialising in innovative technologies, our software provides the most accurate analysis and genotyping you can find. Whether running clinical trials, looking at samples to ensure that a patient will respond to immunotherapy, or carrying out cutting edge research to support drug discovery, we have the tools to advance your immunotherapy work.