Modulating the Tumour Microenvironment banner

Our understanding of mechanisms in the tumour microenvironment is increasing year-on-year. Over the past years, the industry has come to realize that relying on checkpoint blockade mechanisms and monotherapy approaches are not enough to overcome the immunosuppressive nature of the tumour microenvironment. This meeting will explore current understanding of immune tolerance and approaches to overcome immune resistance, at the same time highlight strategies to modulate the tumor microenvironment through various activators and inhibitors of immune responses to improve targeting and tumor-specificity, or enhance potency and safety.

Sunday, 13 November

Registration Open12:00

Recommended Short Course*14:00

SC2: The Tumour Microenvironment and Response to Cancer Immunotherapy
*Separate registration required. See short courses page for details.

Monday, 14 November

Registration and Morning Coffee (Garden Room)07:30

ROOM LOCATION: Diamant + Coral



Chairperson's Opening Remarks

Mark S. Cragg, PhD, Professor of Experimental Cancer Biology, School of Cancer Sciences, Faculty of Medicine, University of Southampton


Immunological Configuration of Ovarian Carcinoma: The Impact on Disease Outcome and Response to Immunotherapy

Jitka Palich Fucikova, PhD, Senior Scientist, Sotio Biotech a.s.

Ovarian carcinoma (OC) is among the top five causes of cancer-related death in women. At odds with other neoplasms, OC is poorly sensitive to immune checkpoint inhibitors, correlating with a tumor microenvironment that exhibits poor infiltration by immune cells and active immunosuppression. Thus, novel strategies are needed to overcome the lack of pre-existing immunity, potentially including immunogenic chemotherapies, adoptive T cell transfer strategies, and/or vaccination approaches. As most immunotherapies only benefit a small percentage of patients, it is also imperative to discover biomarkers that prospectively identify patients potentially achieving benefits from specific immunotherapeutic regimens, in the setting of personalized cancer immunotherapy.


Overcoming Suppressive Tumour Microenvironments to Augment Antibody Therapy 

Stephen A. Beers, PhD, Professor of Immunology & Immunotherapy, University of Southampton

The tumour microenvironment is frequently immune suppressive and can negatively impact the efficacy of antibody therapies. Identifying and understanding key mechanisms of resistance to antibody drugs could be instrumental to enhancing and widening responses. Here, we will present examples of how the tumour microenvironment can suppress antibody therapy and discuss strategies to overcome this suppression to enhance outcomes.


A Multipronged Approach to Overcoming Cold Tumor Resistance to Immunotherapy

Björn L. Frendeus, PhD, CSO, BioInvent International AB

Patients with “cold” tumors rarely benefit from immune checkpoint blockade (ICB). Seeking to bring clinical benefit of ICB to these patients, we assessed the potential of FcgR blockade and spatially restricted vectorized anti-CTLA-4 to help overcome resistance in the cold tumor microenvironment. We provide in vivo proof-of-concept that triplet aPD-1/aCTLA-4/aFcgRIIB and doublet vectorized aCTLA-4/aPD-1 induce cures in B16 melanoma-bearing mice resistant to systemic aCTLA-4/aPD-1 combination immunotherapy.


A CXCL10-Based Biologic Which Mobilizes T Cells through Enhanced GAG-Binding

Tanja Gerlza, PhD, Postdoctoral Research Fellow, Institute of Pharmaceutical Sciences, University of Graz

The immune system uses checkpoints to maintain immune homeostasis, but cancer cells copy this technique to defend themselves against it, resulting in immune escape. We have engineered a mutant of the T cell mobilizing chemokine CXCL10 that acts as a superagonist via its improved GAG binding affinity. In pathological conditions with impaired immunosurveillance, this decoy could help bypass the immune system blockade and re-install T cell response leading to tumor necrosis.


CD3 Bispecific Antibody Therapy Is Effective in Solid Tumors After Increased T Cell Infiltration Induced by Vaccines

Katy Lloyd, PhD, Senior Scientist, Genmab BV

One of the main hurdles for CD3-bispecific antibody therapy for solid tumors is the lack of tumor-infiltrating T cells, which are essential for therapeutic efficacy. We found that systemic administration of tumor-aspecific vaccination increased T cell infiltration in solid tumors and engaging these T cells with CD3-bispecific antibodies delayed tumor outgrowth and improve survival in syngeneic mouse models. This strategy might be used to improve CD3-bispecific therapy responses for solid tumors in the clinic.

Coffee Break in the Exhibit Hall with Poster Viewing (Verdi and Vivaldi 1&2)10:30



Antibody-Cytokine Fusions: Emerging Clinical Data in Glioblastoma, Sarcoma, and Dermato-Oncology Indications

Dario Neri, PhD, CEO and CSO, Philogen

Antibody-cytokine fusions hold promises for the treatment of cancer and other serious conditions. In this presentation, I will present emerging preclinical and clinical data related to Philogen's clinical-stage antibody-cytokine fusions, which are being used for the treatment of patients with glioblastoma, sarcoma, and various dermato-oncology conditions.

  • Preclinical and clinical data on antibody-cytokine fusions
  • Fusion proteins with IL2 and TNF
  • Activity data in glioblastoma, soft-tissue sarcoma, melanoma, and non-melanoma skin cancer

A-Kine Platform: On-Target Cytokines to Reprogram Cell Targets for Immune-Oncology

Erik Depla, PhD, Director, Biology, Orionis Biosciences NV

Cytokines are powerful regulators of the immune system and attractive therapeutic effector candidates – provided that their sites of action can be restricted to avoid systemic exposure and toxicity. To achieve such spatial control of cytokine bioactivity upon drug administration, we have evolved a proprietary biologics platform that integrates a strategic “plug-and-play” assembly of modular, biomolecular building blocks into therapeutic agents with unique conditional effector functions and cell target selectivity.

12:15 Accelerate Cancer Research and Cancer-Immune Cell Therapies with Single Cell and Spatial Resolution

Jose Jacob, Product Manager, Single Cell Immune Profiling, 10x Genomics

Mustafa Sibai, Research Assistant & Predoctoral Fellow, Cancer Immunogenomics Group, Josep Carreras Leukaemia Research Institute

The path from research discovery to effective immune cell therapies requires innovative approaches to match the challenges we face. Examining the full richness of biological complexity can uncover molecular insights into therapeutic efficacy and toxicity, and accelerate the development of novel treatments. Join us to learn how Chromium Single Cell and Visium Spatial solutions from 10x Genomics can transform the way you approach cancer biology and tackle immune cell therapies.



Session Break12:45

12:55 3D Multicellular Spheroids as Models for Preclinical Drug Testing

Natasha Helleberg Madsen, PhD Student, Cellular Engineering and Disease Models- Immune Models, Bioneer A/S

In vitro models are important tools in cancer research, enabling screening and evaluation of novel drug candidates. Therapies targeting macrophages in tumors have emerged as promising treatments as tumor-associated macrophages often correlate with tumor progression. We established in vitro 3D multicellular spheroid models to reliably mimic the microenvironment of solid tumors and propose that these models can be used to improve the drug screening process of anti-cancer immunotherapies.

Session Break13:55



Chairperson's Remarks

Dario Neri, PhD, CEO and CSO, Philogen


Interference with the Myeloid CD47/SIRPα Checkpoint to Improve Tumor Cell Killing by Neutrophils

Thomas Valerius, MD, Professor, Stem Cell Transplantation & Immunotherapy, Christian Albrechts University of Kiel

Myeloid cells like monocytes/macrophages and PMN constitute a major population of tumor cell infiltrates. Myeloid checkpoint blockade e.g. with CD47 antibodies or QPTCL inhibitors can improve the therapeutic efficacy of tumor-directed antibodies. Additionally, switching to IgA antibodies can improve myeloid effector cell recruitment. Thus, the future challenge will be to identify situations in which myeloid effector cells in the tumor microenvironment can be optimally recruited to contribute to antibody efficacy.


Engineering Antibodies for Immune Stimulation

Mark S. Cragg, PhD, Professor of Experimental Cancer Biology, School of Cancer Sciences, Faculty of Medicine, University of Southampton

Agonistic antibodies directed to immunostimulatory receptors are a currently untapped source for immunotherapy. Whereas checkpoint blockers have translated into the clinic, the rules for agonistic antibodies have been more difficult to discern and these reagents await further optimization. Here we discuss the salient properties of monoclonal antibodies (mAb) required to strongly agonize these receptors and discuss potential antibody engineering strategies for the future. Using TNFR superfamily receptors as a paradigm the following key aspects will be discussed:

  • Role of isotype
  • Role of epitope
  • Structure-function relationships
  • Engineered Fc for greater agonism

Engineering Tumor-Selective Biologics for Immune-Oncology

Uli Bialucha, PhD, CSO, Xilio Therapeutics

Xilio Therapeutics, Inc., is a clinical-stage biotechnology company. We are using our proprietary geographically-precise solutions (GPS) platform to rapidly engineer novel molecules, including cytokines and other biologics, that are designed to optimize their therapeutic index. These molecules are designed to localize activity within the tumor microenvironment while limiting systemic effects, resulting in the potential to achieve increased dosing and enhanced anti-tumor activity. We will present an update on our pipeline of wholly-owned, tumor-selective, GPS-enabled cytokine and checkpoint inhibitor programs.

15:50 Microenvironment In Vitro, Using Axtex 4D; A Scaffold Based Tissueoid Generation Platform

Prabuddha Kundu to be Announced, PhD, Managing Director, Premas Biotech

AXTEX-4D is a scaffold based 3D culture platform to generate tissueoids ex vivo. These tissueoids recapitulate the in vivo microenvironment and demonstrate constitutional & biochemical similarity, e.g. proliferation, longevity, contiguous cytoskeleton, hypoxic core, etc. It has potential in diverse applications as Drug testing, toxicity models, Immuno-oncology assays, Angiogenesis etc. component based tri-culture models using diverse cell lines, that mimic the native TME more closely than monoculture assays and allow for performing studies have been established.

Presentation to be Announced16:05

Refreshment Break in the Hall with Poster Viewing (Verdi and Vivaldi 1&2)16:20


Off-the-Shelf Allogeneic EBV CAR T Cells

Jakob Dupont, MD, Global Head, R&D, Atara Biotherapeutics

Allogeneic T cells have qualities that make them an ideal platform for treating disease. Evolution of CAR T designs and next-generation armoring technologies to overcome the hostile tumor microenvironment will be explored, including the promise of a platform that doesn’t require HLA or TCR gene editing and safety, expansion, and persistence implications. 


B Cells and Tertiary Lymphoid Structures: Biomarkers for Survival and Therapeutic Response of Cancer Patients

Florent Petitprez, PhD, Postdoctoral Research Fellow, MRC Centre for Reproductive Health, The Queen's Medical Research Institute, University of Edinburgh

Immune checkpoint inhibitors have revolutionized cancer treatment, but only a minority of patients respond and there is a critical need to identify reliable predictive biomarkers. The tumor microenvironment holds key information to predict clinical outcomes. Notably, B cells and tertiary lymphoid structures (TLS) have recently been shown to predict immunotherapy efficacy in various malignancies. The latest developments regarding B cells and TLS will be discussed during this talk:

  • B cells and TLS predict immunotherapy response in soft-tissue sarcoma, melanoma, and other malignancies
  • TLS as determinants of the immune contexture and clinical outcome
  • TLS generate and propagate anti-tumoral plasma cells?

Welcome Reception in the Exhibit Hall with Poster Viewing (Verdi and Vivaldi 1&2)18:05

Close of Modulating the Tumour Microenvironment Conference19:05