To facilitate development of innovative immunotherapy approaches, especially for treatment concepts exploiting the potential benefits of personalized therapy, there is a need to develop and validate tools to identify patients who can benefit from immunotherapy. Despite substantial effort, we do not yet know which parameters of anti-tumor immunity to measure and which assays are optimal for those measurements.
The iSBTc-SITC, FDA and NCI partnered to address these issues for immunotherapy of cancer. Here, we review the major challenges, give examples of approaches and solutions and present our recommendations.
Results and Conclusions
While specific immune parameters and assays are not yet validated, we recommend following standardized (accurate, precise and reproducible) protocols and use of functional assays for the primary immunologic readouts of a trial; consideration of central laboratories for immune monitoring of large, multi-institutional trials; and standardized testing of several phenotypic and functional potential potency assays specific to any cellular product. When reporting results, the full QA/QC performed, selected examples of truly representative raw data and assay performance characteristics should be included. Lastly, to promote broader analysis of multiple aspects of immunity, and gather data on variability, we recommend that in addition to cells and serum, that RNA and DNA samples be banked (under standardized conditions) for later testing. We also recommend that sufficient blood be drawn to allow for planned testing of the primary hypothesis being addressed in the trial, and that additional baseline and post-treatment blood is banked for testing novel hypotheses (or generating new hypotheses) that arise in the field.