In the era of immunotherapy, it’s essential to match the right patient to the right treatment. Effective biomarkers are needed to enable patient stratification and ensure that more patients benefit from precision medicine.
While many novel techniques have been developed to aid scientists in their hunt for better immunotherapy biomarkers, spatial phenotyping has emerged as a frontrunner in this quest. A comprehensive meta-analysis published in JAMA Oncology shows that multiplex immunofluorescence (mIF) more accurately predicts patient response to anti-PD-1/PD-L1 therapy compared to other biomarker assays, including PD-L1 IHC, tumor mutational burden (TMB), and gene expression profiling.
These results suggest that analyzing multiple markers with spatial resolution provides important information that is lacking in other approaches. The goal of immunotherapy is to activate the body’s immune system against the tumor. To accurately predict how a patient will respond to such activation, spatial context is essential to mapping the organization and interactions of immune and tumor cells in the tumor microenvironment. Through spatial phenotyping, enabled by mIF, we can now profile novel phenotypic signatures with single-cell, spatial resolution to reveal cell type, functional state, and intercellular interactions in situ.
In a seminal, first-of-its-kind approach, Johns Hopkins investigators demonstrated the predictive value of spatial phenotypic signatures in melanoma using AstroPath, a novel platform which combines the Phenoptics™ mIF workflow with sky-mapping algorithms derived from astronomy to perform deep spatial profiling of tumor sections.
But before spatial phenotypic signatures can enter the clinic and make an impact on immunotherapy outcomes, the scientific community must validate and standardize the mIF workflow that can measure this new biomarker class. Keep reading to learn about several groups currently working towards standardization, and how Phenoptics – a robust, established mIF platform – is playing a pivotal role in these efforts.