Innovative models for pediatric cancer drug development, and cell population analysis as a biomarker in cancer immunotherapy

The development of PDX platforms for childhood cancer for oncology research

Cancer remains the leading cause of disease-related death in children. In most of the cases curative treatment options are rare. Preclinical drug testing to identify promising treatment options that match the molecular make-up of the tumor is hampered by the lack of available models. PPP (Public Private Partnership) in Europe as well as in the US were built in the last few months to close this gap of models and create robust and reliable platforms for drug development of childhood cancer. The possibility to have a PDX based platform validated by distinct molecular characterization of high-risk pediatric malignancies in combination with thorough standard of care data will significantly accelerate the development of more precise and efficacious drugs.

—Julia Schueler, PhD, Research Director, Oncology, Charles River

Using flow cytometry to learn how immunotherapies fight cancer

Since the first instruments using fluorescence-based detection came to market flow cytometry technolgoy has been widely utilized. As we learn more about the immune system’s role in incurable diseases, flow cytometry is suddenly popular again, including in the area of cancer immunotherapies. Phenotyping of tumor-infiltrating lymphocytes (TIL) by flow cytometry is a common readout from animal models used in oncology. Experimental studies assess whether and how immune cells within this disguising microenvironment may change under various dosing regimen. Measurable changes in their frequency, composition, distribution and function may help determining a possible therapeutic outcome. Ultimately, the same information can be of prognostic and predictive value down the drug development journey.   

—Christoph Eberle, MICR, PhD, Principal Scientist, Oncology, Charles River