The venerable University of Utrecht, in short distance to Amsterdam, was venue of the 2nd partner meeting of APERIM. From 3rd to 4th of April APERIM partners met to present and discuss first project results. In particular, developed software and databases to address specific challenges in the field of cancer immunology were presented. Regarding the planned objectives, good progress could be achieved. Various software prototypes have been developed and a number of web databases developed during the course of the project are now publicly accessible:
Data Integration and development of an advanced bioinformatic platform
The Cancer Immunome Atlas Database – TCIA was launched by the Medical University of Innsbruck. TCIA provides a comprehensive view of the cellular composition of the intratumoral immune infiltrates as well as cancer antigens of >8000 samples from The Cancer Genome Atlas (TCGA), which were analysed using state-of-the-art immunogenomic analytical pipelines.
Automated quantification tool for tumor infiltrating lymphocytes (TILs) to stratify colorectal cancer patients
Partner Definiens developed the TIL analyser software as an image analysis solution to detect, quantify and evaluate tumour infiltrating lymphocytes in slide H&E images. This software is now tested and evaluated by APERIM partner data. INSERM in parallel is working the annotation of whole slide images in order to stratify CRC patients using immunoscore. Partner CNIC worked on the digital TIL sorter to quantify TILs from RNA-Seq data. A prototype software is established and will now be tested and evaluated, before it is integrated in TCIA bioinformatic platform.
Development of an analytical pipeline for NGS-guided personalised cancer vaccines
Three software parts will form this pipeline package. Partner TRON already successfully developed the iCaM2.0 NGSanalyser software, which is actually evaluated with clinical data. To predict which targets of the tumor surface will be immunogenic, University of Utrecht is working intensively on the second software, the immunopredictor with the planned delivery date in fall. As further important parts of the pipeline, University of Tübingen developed the EpitopeSelector as an open source software, further a novel approach to solve the subsequent problem of assembling the selected neo-epitopes into the final vaccine and a necessary framework to rapidly develop such advanced computational immunology approaches.
The integration of all applications in one pipeline to identify optimal cancer vaccine targets will be reached by the end of the Project.
Predicting T-cell receptor (TCR) specifity for adoptive T-cell cancer therapy
Based on available NGS data Partner AptaIT generated a TCR Kit to analyse deriving TCR sequences. This software will now be tested and evaluated with further data. In order to develop a novel method to predict TCR specificity, Masaryk University built a database containing more than 5000 TCRs with known specificities, which can be now extended with additional datasets.
Additionally, together with research results from University of Utrecht concerning epitope structures (pMHC), a TCR ontology database was generated.
All tools together will finally help to describe TCR reactivity in human cancers.
In the remaining project year, Partners with access to clinical data will provide these data to test and evaluate the developed software modules and to fill open access databases. Preliminary results already show the high value and successful progress of the innovative APERIM bioinformatics platform.
Partners of the H2020 project APERIM, coordinated by Univ.-Prof. Zlatko Trajanoski (front left) met in Utrecht to present and discuss preliminary project results.