FNIH Biomarkers Consortium Launches ChIIME to Identify Biomarkers that Predict Response to Immunotherapy in Breast Cancer Patients

October 21, 2019 — The Foundation for the National Institutes of Health (FNIH) Biomarkers Consortium has launched a new project under its Cancer Steering Committee that will identify biological markers (biomarkers) that predict personalized response to immunotherapy after a patient receives chemotherapy. The “Chemotherapeutic Impact on the Immune MicroEnvironment (ChIIME)” project will use a cutting-edge technology called single nucleus RNA sequencing to analyze metastatic breast cancer samples. This information will help scientists understand what changes caused by chemotherapy alter the immune microenvironment, and therefore a patient’s response to immunotherapies. Ultimately, this data will be used to develop biomarkers that inform cancer treatment regimens and new therapeutic interventions for this and other types of cancer.

The fastest growing cancer treatment type is immunotherapy, which stimulates the patient’s immune system to attack cancer cells. While immunotherapy has been successful for some patients, treatment response still varies widely from patient to patient. ChIIME will address one aspect of this challenge by building on evidence that initial treatment with chemotherapy can increase a tumor’s sensitivity to subsequent immunotherapy by altering the tumor microenvironment (TME). The project will map the complex interactions between individual malignant and non-malignant cells in the TME using single nucleus RNA sequencing. TME analysis will uncover changes in the molecular states of these cells prior to and following chemotherapy.

The project team includes experts from the FNIH, National Cancer Institute, U.S. Food and Drug Administration, academia and the pharmaceutical industry. For more information about the project, click here.


Public Partners

  • National Cancer Institute
  • U.S. Food and Drug Administration

Private Partners

  • Merck Sharp & Dohme Corp.*
  • EMD Serono Research and Development Institute, Inc.*

Academic Partners

  • The Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard
  • Dana-Farber Cancer Institute

*Provides financial or in-kind support for this program.

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