Genentech Presents VersaGel / Symphony Data at LRIG Event

On September 26, 2018 the Laboratory Research and Innovation Group (LRIG) hosted an event called Better Assay Models at the South San Francisco Conference Center. A host of speakers discussed how advances in in vivo, in vitro and ex vivo assay models are producing better data and enabling key decisions to be made earlier and earlier.

In particular, Genentech scientist Robert Blake, D Phil, gave a presentation titled Comparison of 3D Technologies and Their Applications to a Cancer Immunology Model. (See below for full abstract.) Cypre’s Symphony® and VersaGel® 3D culture platform was one of the technologies Dr. Blake discussed in his talk. We here at Cypre were excited to see the positive results he presented.

T cells (orange) infiltrating in VersaGel®-Immunology with GFP-tumors embedded inside (green), highlighting tumor cell killing (red).

T cells (orange) infiltrating in VersaGel®-Immunology with GFP-tumors embedded inside (green), highlighting tumor cell killing (red).

In the study referenced in Dr. Blake’s presentation, Genentech collaborated with Cypre to build a 3D tumor model showcasing immune cell exclusion, a hallmark of some cancers that has resulted in immunotherapy failures costing $Billions in R&D. Dr. Blake described how Cypre helped them build their 3D tumor model using the VersaGel/Symphony platform, and specifically how they created the tumor, stromal and immune cell components in a 3D fashion in 24-well and 96-well microplates.

Dr. Blake’s presentation discussed how it was found that VersaGel’s stiffness and degradability of the matrix played an important role in tumor growth and T-cell migration. Moreover, the fibrotic layer incorporated into the 3D cell model provided a structural barrier to limit T-cell penetration to the surface region of the tumor, effectively recapitulating their clinical observations recently published in Nature. Without the barrier, T cells were able to more freely penetrate the tumor in VersaGel, suggesting the stromal layer provided chemical and/or physical cues attenuating T-cell response and killing of the tumor cells. Genentech will now explore testing various therapeutics in this 3D immune exclusion model for their ability to influence T-cell function.

When asked about the collaboration, Kolin Hribar, PhD, Cypre’s founder and CEO, said “It’s an important milestone to see this project spawn into therapeutic discovery and development at Genentech. Our team is thrilled to work with Rob and Genentech’s excellent team of scientists and researchers for this collaboration.”

We caught up with Dr. Blake via email recently to ask him more about what role he thought Cypre’s VersaGel/Symphony would play in his research. He said, “Cancer-Immunology is currently a mouse-intensive pursuit. The development of novel drugs that target the cancer-immune system interaction will require more sophisticated in vitro 3D co-culture models than those typically applied to traditional cancer drug development. We hope that the technology offered by Cypre will help us apply these models to our drug discovery process.”

Contact us to learn more about how Symphony and VersaGel can deliver next generation 3D culture to your lab.

Here is Dr. Blake’s full abstract from the LRIG conference:

Comparison of 3D Technologies and Their Applications to a Cancer Immunology Model

Robert Blake, Genentech, South San Francisco, CA

The interaction of cells of the immune system with cancers is currently a major focus of many research labs and pharmaceutical companies, with a goal of developing more effective cancer therapies. 3D co-culture methods offer the prospect of being able to recapitulate the immune system - tumor interaction, in an in vitro setting. These types of in vitro methods will be important for developing and studying novel therapeutics for cancer treatment. We have used the MC38ova mouse colon carcinoma model in co-culture with fibroblasts and endothelial cells and treatment with CD8+ T-cells, to evaluate several different 3D cell culture technologies. Our goal was to learn the pros and cons of each technology and their ability to generate meaningful data in vitro for guiding cancer immunology drug discovery projects. We will discuss an interim analysis of what we have learned to date from these studies.

Robert Lynde