Cambridge Healthtech Institute’s 4th Annual

Immuno-Oncology Advances

Translational Strategies, Small Molecule Targets and Immune Profiling

June 2-4, 2020

Immuno-oncology research and the subsequent development of immunotherapies continue to rapidly advance the fight against cancer. First-generation agents that achieved remarkable clinical success have inspired researchers to pursue a variety of new treatment modalities and created a robust development landscape centered on combinations strategies. The 4th Annual Immuno-Oncology Advances conference, part of World Pharma Week, will feature three key areas that include preclinical and translational strategies, small molecule targets in immuno-oncology, and immune profiling and monitoring.

Final Agenda

Recommended Short Course*

SC1: In vitro and in vivo Modeling for Cancer Research - View Detailed Agenda

*Separate registration required.

Tuesday, June 2


Immunotherapeutic strategies have changed the way cancers are being treated, providing significant benefit to patients. Despite success, a large fraction of patients does not respond to single-agent therapy. Combination approaches may be the key to improving response rates in these patients. Preclinical immuno-oncology models provide tremendous value for shaping clinical strategies, given that countless potential combinations exist with other immunotherapies, radiation, and/or standard of care.

10:00 am Main Conference Registration Open


11:15 Chairperson’s Remarks

Michael Woo, PharmD, Head, Search & Evaluation, Immuno-Oncology, Business Development & Licensing, Novartis Institutes for BioMedical Research, Inc.

11:25 KEYNOTE PRESENTATION: Leveraging Multi-Targeting for More Effective Cancer Immunotherapy

Wiederschain_DmitriDmitri Wiederschain, PhD, Global Head, Immuno-Oncology Research Therapeutic Area, Sanofi

Cancer immunotherapies with anti-PD-1/PD-L1 checkpoint blockers have revolutionized the treatment of a wide variety of malignancies. However, immunotherapy is ineffective in a significant subset of cancer patients or eventually results in the development of resistance with relapsed disease. Therefore, the future of immuno-oncology is identification of new multi-targeted agents that can elicit robust anti-tumor immunity as single agents and/or be combined with PD1/PDL1 inhibitors to increase the duration and durability of clinical responses. Sanofi is leveraging its rich internal toolbox of therapeutic modalities, including multispecific antibodies, nanobodies and ADCs, to reduce the concept of multi-targeting to practice and convert “cold” non-immunogenic tumors into “hot” tumors with rich and functionally active immune infiltrate.

11:55 Exploring Novel Immunotherapy Combinations to Overcome Resistance to PD-1 Blockade

Jenkins_RussellRussell Jenkins, MD, PhD, Center for Cancer Research, Massachusetts General Hospital

Cancer immunotherapy with immune checkpoint blockade has transformed the treatment of patients with advanced melanoma, but strategies to overcome resistance are limited. Using molecular and pharmacologic tools, we have confirmed TANK-binding kinase 1 (TBK1) as a novel target to overcome resistance to PD-1 blockade, further supporting the preclinical and clinical development of this novel combination strategy.

12:25 pm External Collaboration in Immuno-Oncology: New Approaches and Business Models

Woo_MichaelMichael Woo, PharmD, Head, Search & Evaluation, Immuno-Oncology, Business Development & Licensing, Novartis Institutes for BioMedical Research, Inc.

The rapid expansion of the field of immune-oncology provoked a spike of venture capital activity and increased the level of external collaboration among pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies. This presentation will focus on strategic consequences of the IO wave for pharma, biotech, and the venture ecosystem.

12:55 Transition to Lunch

1:00 Luncheon Presentation to be Announced

1:30 Session Break

TRANSLATIONAL approaches and novel targets

2:00 Chairperson’s Remarks

Viviana Cremasco, PhD, Investigator III, Exploratory Immuno-Oncology, Novartis

2:05 In vivo Imaging Techniques for Model Characterization and Guiding Combination Strategies

Tapan Nayak, PhD, Director, Translational Imaging Biomarkers, Merck & Co., Inc.

The success rate of experimental therapy is difficult to predict, as its efficacy often depends upon the characteristics of the preclinical animal models. The presentation will cover different non-invasive imaging techniques to characterize animal models and the information used to guide combination therapies in animal models.

2:25 TGFβ-Blockade Uncovers Stromal Plasticity in Tumors by Revealing the Existence of a Novel Subset of Interferon-Licensed Fibroblasts

Viviana Cremasco, PhD, Investigator III, Exploratory Immuno-Oncology, Novartis

By performing an unbiased interrogation of tumor mesenchymal cells, our study shows that TGFβ-neutralization leads to a profound remodeling of CAF dynamics, greatly reducing the frequency and activity of myofibroblasts, while promoting the formation of a novel fibroblast population characterized by strong response to interferon and heightened immunomodulatory properties. These changes are sufficient to drive productive anti-tumor immunity, laying the foundation for future investigations aimed at defining strategies to reprogram CAF composition for cancer therapy.

2:45 Driving Clinical Decisions about Indications and Combination Partners Using Patient-Derived Xenograft Models

Clark_AndersonAnderson Clark, PhD, Director, Translational in vivo Pharmacology, Translational Innovation Platform, Oncology, EMD Serono

Preclinical tumor models can provide data to drive clinical decisions about responsive indications, biomarkers, suitable combination partners (both standard-of-care and novel agents), and dosing strategies.  In this talk, I will present the preclinical strategy that was used to support early clinical development of M2698, a dual inhibitor of p70S6K/AKT, at EMD Serono.

3:05 TAC Development for the Treatment of Solid and Liquid Tumors

Helsen_ChristopherChristopher Helsen, PhD, Director, R&D and Head, Platform Development, Triumvira Immunologics Inc.

Triumvira is a clinical-stage company developing T-cell therapies engineered with the proprietary T-cell antigen coupler (TAC). TAC is designed to co-opt the natural TCR independent of MHC showing safe and effective tumor rejection in mouse models of solid and liquid tumors. Triumvira successfully cleared IND/CTA submission for TAC01-CD19 to treat LBCL with a second solid tumor program in preclinical development. 

3:35 Talk title to be Announced

Price_LeoLeo Price, CEO, OcellO BV

3:50 Using Quantitative Super-Resolution Imaging to Design Safe and Effective TherapiesOxford-Nanoimaging

Pereno_ValerioValerio Pereno, Business Development, ONI

4:05 Networking Refreshment Break and Transition to Keynote


4:25 - 6:05 Driving Entrepreneurial Innovation to Accelerate Therapeutic Discoveries

The life sciences community has an unprecedented scientific arsenal to discovery, develop and implement treatments, cures and preventions that enhance human healthcare.

Moderator: Nadeem Sarwar, President, Eisai Center for Genetics Guided Dementia Discovery (G2D2), Eisai Inc.

Panelists: Anthony Philippakis, Chief Data Officer, Broad Institute; Venture Partner, GV

Barbara Sosnowski, Vice President and Global Head, Emerging Science & Innovation Leads, WWRDM, Pfizer

John Hallinan, Chief Business Officer, Massachusetts Biotechnology Council

6:05 Welcome Reception in the Exhibit Hall with Poster Viewing

7:10 Close of Day

Wednesday, June 3


Immune profiling promises to identify biomarkers that predict response to immunotherapy and to help monitor its progress. Understanding the tumor microenvironment and mechanisms of tumor immune evasion are the goal of this session.

7:30 am Registration Open and Morning Coffee


8:10 Chairperson’s Remarks

Samir Hanash, MD, PhD, Director, McCombs Institute for Cancer Early Detection and Treatment, MD Anderson Cancer Center

8:15 Integrative Analyses of Environment, Microbiome, Immunity, and Tumor for Precision Oncology

Ogino_ShujiShuji Ogino, MD, PhD, MS, Professor of Pathology, Brigham & Women’s Hospital, Harvard Medical School; Professor, Epidemiology, Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health; Chief of Molecular Pathological Epidemiology (MPE) Program, Brigham & Women’s Hospital; Associate Member, Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard

The integrative field of immunology-MPE (molecular pathological epidemiology) is an emerging paradigm and can investigate influences of the exposome on tumor-immune interactions, thereby informing immunotherapy research. Using over 1500 colorectal cancer cases with rich data on immune response, whole exome sequencing, RNA-sequencing, tumor neoantigens, and clinical outcomes, proof-of-principle immunology-MPE studies have shown great promise for precision prevention and immuno-oncology.

8:45 The Tumor Immune Microenvironment of Pre-Malignant Lesion in the Pancreas

Thompson_ElizabethElizabeth Thompson MD, PhD, Assistant Professor, Pathology and Oncology, The Johns Hopkins Hospital

While much work has focused on the tumor immune microenvironment of established cancers, little is known about the immune response to the earliest stages of tumor development. This talk will explore the immune microenvironment of neoplastic precursor lesions in the pancreas, focusing on pancreatic intraepithelial neoplasia and intraductal papillary mucinous neoplasms (IPMN) with emphasis on features predicting grade of dysplastic change and recurrence/progression to malignancies.

9:15 Immune Profiling

Veena Kandaswamy, PhD, Immuno-Oncology Biomarkers, Eli Lilly

9:45 How Biospecimen Sourcing Can Impact Your R&D Results

Vanessa Tumilasci, PhD, Commercial Director, Trans-Hit Bio

Biospecimen sourcing is becoming a challenge for many scientists who need to respect timelines for R&D plans as well as regulatory and ethical constraints. Are the scientists working with the samples aware of all the imperatives to obtain them; quality, respect of laws, ethics and regulations?

10:00 Sponsored Presentation (Opportunity Available)

10:15 Coffee Break in the Exhibit Hall with Poster Viewing


11:00 Molecular Signatures of Tumor Immune Evasion

Hanash_SamirSamir Hanash, MD, PhD, Director, McCombs Institute for Cancer Early Detection and Treatment, MD Anderson Cancer Center

A wide world of mechanisms leading to tumor immune evasion have emerged. Assessment of these mechanisms has relevance to immunotherapy applications.

11:30 Multiplex Immunofluorescence Tyramide Signal Amplification and Multispectral Imaging Assay to Support Translational Oncology Studies

Parra_EdwinEdwin Roger Parra Cuentas, MD, PhD, Assistant Professor, Translational Molecular Pathology; Director of the Multiplex Immunofluorescence and Image Analysis Laboratory, MD Anderson Cancer Center

Multiplex immunofluorescence (mIF) have emerged in the last years as a very powerful tool to study tumor tissues. This revolutionary technology provides important visual technique for tumor examination in formalin-fixed paraffin-embedded specimens to improve the understanding of the tumor microenvironment, promote new treatment discoveries, aid in cancer prevention, as well as allowing translational studies to be carried out.

12:00 pm Sponsored Presentation (Opportunity Available)

12:30 Transition to Lunch

12:35 Luncheon Presentation (Sponsorship Opportunity Available) or Enjoy Lunch on Your Own

1:05 Session Break


1:45 - 3:15

Lgr5 Stem Cell-Based Organoids in Human Disease

Clevers_HansHans Clevers, MD, PhD, Principal Investigator of Hubrecht Institute and Princess Máxima Center, CSO of HUB Organoids Technology

Organoid technology opens a range of applications in fields such as physiology, study of disease, drug development and personalized medicine. Human organoids represent excellent disease models, be it infectious, hereditary or malignant Eventually, cultured mini-organs may be used to replace transplant organs from donors. I will describe how we originally created ‘mini-guts’ via 3D culture systems of stem cells of the small intestine and colon, and then expanded the technology to virtually all human organs.

Systematically Drugging Ras

Fesik_StephenStephen Fesik, PhD, Professor of Biochemistry, Pharmacology, and Chemistry, Orrin H. Ingram II Chair in Cancer Research, Vanderbilt University School of Medicine

K-Ras is a small GTPase that is mutated in pancreatic (90%), colon (50%), and lung (30%) carcinomas. Downregulation of activated Ras reverses the transformed phenotype of cells and results in the dramatic regression of tumors in murine xenograft models. Thus, K-Ras inhibition represents an attractive therapeutic strategy for many cancers. In this presentation, I will discuss our efforts to directly target Ras at two sites and target SOS, a molecular partner of Ras, with activators and inhibitors.

3:15 Refreshment Break in the Exhibit Hall with Poster Viewing


4:00 Chairperson’s Remarks

Samir Hanash, MD, PhD, Director, McCombs Institute for Cancer Early Detection and Treatment, MD Anderson Cancer Center

4:05 Pharmacodynamic Profiling of Patients Treated with BLZ945 Demonstrates On-Target Peripheral and Tumor Immune Microenvironment Modulation

Mataraza_JenniferJennifer Mataraza, PhD, Head, Translational Immuno-Oncology, Novartis Institutes for BioMedical Research

BLZ945 is an oral, highly selective and potent kinase inhibitor of CSF-1R. Both preclinical and clinical evidence demonstrates that blocking (CSF-1R) signaling may lead to depletion of TAMs and increased T cell activation. BLZ945X2101 is an ongoing clinical trial investigating the use of BLZ945 as single agent and in combination with spartalizumab (anti-PD-1) in advanced solid tumors. Biomarker analyses will be discussed as evidence of on-target pharmacodynamic effects of BLZ945 in treated patients.

4:35 Overview of Genomic Biomarkers in Clinical Trials

Chetan Deshpande, Clinical Biomarker Assay Lead, Pfizer

Genomics biomarkers have been implemented routinely in clinical trials, especially in oncology, for exploratory endpoints. Over the last few years, molecular testing by NGS has been applied not only to understand the molecular mechanism of the underlying disease, but also to gain insights into resistance mechanism. This presentation will review the current trends in implementing genomic biomarkers in oncology clinical trials.

5:05 Find Your Table, Meet Your Moderator

5:10 Roundtable Breakout Discussions - View Details

TABLE: Tumor Immune Microenvironment

Moderator: Elizabeth Thompson MD, PhD, Assistant Professor, Pathology and Oncology, The Johns Hopkins Hospital

TABLE: Theranostics in Immuno-Oncology

Moderator: Michael Roehrl, MD, PhD, Director, Precision Pathology Center, Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center; Associate Professor, Pathology and Laboratory Medicine, Weill Cornell Medicine


5:45 Reception in the Exhibit Hall with Poster Viewing

6:45 Close of Day

Thursday, June 4


Preclinical tumor models are key tools to evaluate the activity of cancer therapies. They are instrumental to understanding the mechanism of action of tested compounds and help with identifying rational combination partners for best anti-tumor efficacy. Next-generation tumor models, preclinical imaging, and translational strategies will be featured at Day 3 of this conference.

8:00 am Registration Open and Morning Coffee


8:30 - 9:40 Applications of Artificial Intelligence in Drug Discovery – Separating Hype from Utility

Walters_PatrickPatrick Walters, PhD, Senior Vice President, Computation, Relay Therapeutics

Over the last few years, there has been tremendous interest in the application of artificial intelligence and machine learning in drug discovery. Ultimately, the success of any predictive model comes down to three factors: data, representation, and algorithms. This presentation will provide an overview of these factors and how they are critical to the successful implementation and deployment of AI methods.

9:40 Coffee Break in the Exhibit Hall with Poster Viewing


10:25 Chairperson’s Remarks

Christopher Kemball, PhD, Scientist, Biochemical & Cellular Pharmacology, Genentech

10:30 Preclinical Modeling Using Human Cancer Xenografts Grown in Immune-Deficient Zebrafish

Langenau_DavidDavid Langenau, PhD, Associate Chief of Research and Director of Molecular Pathology, Massachusetts General Hospital; Associate Professor, Pathology, Harvard Medical School

We have generated immune-compromised zebrafish that lack T-, B- and NK-cells that robustly engraft human cancers. Capitalizing on the optical clarity of zebrafish and facile imaging approaches, we have documented small-molecule therapy responses and dynamic cell killing by CAR T cell- and bispecific T cell-engager antibodies (BITES) at single-cell resolution. Our studies credential the immune-deficient zebrafish as a new platform for preclinical drug studies.

11:00 CD34+ Stem Cell-Derived Human Dendritic Cells Provide a Physiologically Relevant System to Evaluate the Pharmacology of Therapeutic Molecules

Kemball_ChristopherChristopher Kemball, PhD, Scientist, Biochemical & Cellular Pharmacology, Genentech

Anti-tumor immunity may be enhanced by therapeutic agents that promote dendritic cell expansion and differentiation. To better characterize the pharmacology of these therapies, in vitro models are needed that recapitulate physiologically relevant human DC subsets. DCs generated in vitro from human CD34+ progenitor cells closely resemble primary blood DCs. We show that CD34-derived DCs can be used to characterize the potency of a therapeutic molecule to drive cDC1 differentiation.

11:30 Is There a Key Node in the TME to Tip the Balance?

Chen_ZhaoZhao Chen, PhD, Investigator III, Exploratory Immuno-Oncology, Novartis Institutes for BioMedical Research, Inc.

The efficacy of the host immune response against cancer largely depends on the behavior of the tumor microenvironment (TME). Many TME components were shown to impact different aspect of cancer immunity, ranging from T cell priming, effector function, exhaustion to memory. However, the highly heterogeneous TME is often a big hurdle for the clinical translation of TME targets. We are interested in the interplay between components of the TME and the key node that can truly perturb the TME balance.

12:00 pm Sponsored Presentation (Opportunity Available)

12:30 Transition to Lunch

12:35 Luncheon Presentation (Sponsorship Opportunity Available) or Enjoy Lunch on Your Own

1:05 Dessert and Coffee Break in the Exhibit Hall with Poster Viewing

2:00 Chairperson’s Remarks

Virna Cortez-Retamozo, PhD, Lab Head, Senior Principal Scientist, Oncology-Pharmacology, Sanofi

2:05 Transplanted Syngeneic Metastasis Models for Preclinical Applications

Muthusamy_ViswanathanViswanathan Muthusamy, PhD, Research Scientist; Executive Director, Center for Precision Cancer Modeling, Yale School of Medicine

There is a great need for robust in vivo preclinical models for evaluation of drugs interfering with metastasis. We have developed several transplantable, syngeneic metastasis models and used these to assess: 1) interventions to prevent colonization and growth in distant organs; and 2) treatment-induced abscopal effects on distant metastases. In preliminary studies, an immune-targeting, intratumorally injected drug candidate reduced metastatic burden and improved survival in one such model.

2:35 Using Humanized Mouse Models to Evaluate IO Therapeutics

Cortez-Retamozo_VirnaVirna Cortez-Retamozo, PhD, Lab Head, Senior Principal Scientist, Oncology-Pharmacology, Sanofi

The success of early cancer immunotherapies has led to the development of several new therapeutic approaches, including T cell engagers. T cell engagers are typically bispecific Abs directed against the T cell and a tumor-associated antigen, whose therapeutic strategy is to: 1) engage T cells; 2) activate the T cells; and 3) engage tumor cells and induce tumor cell killing. Preclinical evaluation relies on development of models that mirror some properties of a human setting to assess the therapeutic properties of T cell engagers.

3:05 PANEL DISCUSSION: Next-Generation Modeling Systems and What We Can Learn with Their Help

Chen_ZhaoModerator: Zhao Chen, PhD, Investigator III, Exploratory Immuno-Oncology, Novartis Institutes for BioMedical Research, Inc.

Panelists: Speakers of the Session


3:35 Close of Conference