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Leading Oncology Researchers Address Growing Need for Assessing Tumor Microenvironment in Cancer Research

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Key professionals in leading biopharma organizations attended The International Symposium for Tissue Phenomics™ in October 2014 to discuss the latest developments in cancer research and big data. Hosted by Definiens, the global leader in Tissue Phenomics for oncology diagnostics, the event drew key industry professionals and featured speakers from cutting edge organizations such as INSERM, National Cancer Institute, Kimmel Cancer Center, Providence Health Services, OncoMed Pharmaceuticals and University Medical Center Heidelberg. Presentations highlighted novel, important approaches in cancer research for the development of companion diagnostics, analysis of data, and validation of assays used to drive therapies.

Key takeaways from Symposium presentations include:

  • There is a growing need for assessing and quantifying the tumor microenvironment and immune system for cancer treatment. As pharmaceutical companies continue to focus heavily on immunotherapies in cancer research, understanding the cellular and molecular mechanisms of the tumor microenvironment is becoming increasingly important. Quantification of the tumor microenvironment has implications for biomarker discovery and increased disease understanding, which in turn supports greater patient stratification and cancer therapy development, and ultimately personalized medicine.
  • A better understanding of the immunological tumor milieu opens up various new approaches for specific intervention. Current studies on ovarian, melanoma and colorectal cancers are using automated solutions to analyze and evaluate cell tissues, specifically the complex relationships of different immune cell subsets with tumor cells. New approaches in this area can have significant implications in clinical trials, resulting in more precise predictions in prognosis of cancer treatment.
  • The genome alone can’t define disease. Genomics in isolation cannot explain disease, how it occurs and how to treat it. While the genome plays a large role in understanding and treating cancer, it does not provide a complete picture. Other factors, including tissue data, must also be taken into account. As tissue data is more closely connected to the state of the patient, combining it with genomic data creates the potential to become the most relevant science to develop diagnostics and therapies, ultimately improving the treatment of patients.
  • Medicine has lagged behind other industries in the use of big data, but the need – and possibilities – for a big data approach is growing. The big data approach is being successfully applied to many industries, but medicine has been slow to adopt due to the lack of meaningful digital data available. There is currently not enough data available in digital form to make an impact on drug discovery and development, and the biggest data segment – the pixels in tissue images – doesn’t represent value or meaning for data mining tools. However, this will change in the near future as new technologies emerge that can collect, correlate and structure data in a meaningful way. As a result, this advancement in scientific technologies is expected to trigger the next technical industrial revolution.

“It’s an exciting time in the field of cancer research. Research findings presented at the Symposium point to the need for a better understanding of tissue and the tumor and its environment, and progress being made in this area is fueling personalized medicine in clinical research,” said Dr. Gerd Binnig, Founder and Chief Technology Officer, Definiens. “The role of imaging is redefining the decision-making process by combining and correlating quantified image data with genomic information and clinical outcomes, which will help us achieve truly personalized medicine in oncology.”

View presentations from the 2014 International Symposium for Tissue Phenomics here.

For more information about Tissue Phenomics, visit www.definiens.com.

Source: Definiens