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June 11, 2021 by Julia Gouffon, PhD 2 min read

Mission Bio at AACR 2021 – Week 2

The American Association for Cancer Research (AACR) meeting was held virtually this year, and the second part of the conference was the week of May 17-21. Unlike the clinical focus of the first week, this week focused on broader educational topics in oncology basic research, science policy, and career development. 

The week started with an excellent presentation by Keith Flaherty of Massachusetts General on molecular targeted therapies, biomarkers, and drug resistance. Dr. Flaherty revealed that historical drug development takes advantage of specific targetable mutations and approvals have been focused on specific tumor tissue types. These are active areas of research for investigators using Mission Bio’s Tapestri thousands of cells for DNA mutations and immunophenotyping simultaneously.  

Dr. Jane Visvader of the University of Melbourne discussed how tissue of origin and cancer stem cells differ in that a cancer stem cell develops a mutation that allows for expansion of the cell and then secondary mutations that allow for full progression of the cell into a tumor. When considering cancer as an evolutionary tree, a stem cell represents the roots of the tree and progenitors represent the branches. Until that cancer stem cell is targeted with a therapeutic, the tree may be cut down, but the roots remain to grow again. The ability to fully understand the inter and intratumoral heterogeneity is key to understanding how cancer initially develops, persists, and evades treatment. Mission Bio’s Tapestri instrument is uniquely positioned to detect germline and somatic mutations in tissue samples to fully characterize heterogeneity. 

Mutations that arise in tissue of origin may yield targets of value across multiple tumor types such as those targeting gene fusions. The Tapestri system has been utilized to look at the development of mutations in clonal systems of hematopoietic differentiation. Single-cell DNA sequencing can be used to look at tissues of origin and changes that occur during neoplastic transformation including mutations in oncogenic drivers or deletions in tumor suppressor genes. It can also be used to look at copy number amplifications or total loss of function, two genomic states that are difficult to directly assess at a single-cell level via other means of detection such as scRNA seq. 

Many pharmaceutical companies are now investigating combinatorial therapies to target co-occurring mutations and prevent therapeutic resistance. Mission Bio’s Pharmaceutical Assay Development offering can help in these studies. They also have expertise in developing assays for quality assessments of cell and gene therapies. 

Finally, Dr. Catriona Jamieson from UC San Diego Sanford Stem Cell Clinical Center discussed means to detect and eradicate pre-leukemia and leukemia stem cells. In her presentation, she showed how tracking of stem cell clones can be done using single-cell transcriptomics. With the Mission Bio Biolegend TotalSeq D hematopoietic differentiation cascade protein marker panel combined with our Myeloid DNA panel, no inference models are needed and analysis is greatly simplified. 

As a reminder, Mission Bio’s R&D group presented three posters during the Genotype/Phenotype Correlations session and New Algorithms session during the first week of AACR 2021: 

Next up is a review of
ASCO 2021 which was held virtually June 4-8, 2021.


About the Author

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