What We Do with your tumor biopsy
Valuable tumor biopsies will be tested for their immune composition, immune cell gene expression, and immune interaction biology. All of our efforts from clinic to laboratory are compliant with the Federal HIPAA Privacy Rule to protect your medical records and personal health information.
Our team will use tumor biopsies taken from patients to intensively analyze their immune composition and divide the immune response into subclasses that define the disease. As shown in the figure above, we aim to make maximal use of donated tumor tissue. When a tumor is removed, we immediately bring it to the laboratory. By taking it live and intact, we have the opportunity to study it much more intensely. Tumor cells and immune cells continue to interact in these sections for many hours and we use technology developed at UCSF to study this using multiple kinds of tests, such as quantifying immune cells at the edge or center of the tumor and subjecting them to live tumor imaging in order to view how the cells behave.
Segments of the tumor biopsies are also carefully dissociated into single cells and subjected to state-of-the-art technology to quantify them. This is analogous to figuring out how many soldiers are present on the battlefield, where they are positioned, and how they are acting. As a final step, we will determine which molecules are being expressed in the key subsets of cells. The molecular contents of a cell tells you what that cell can and cannot do to assist in clearing a tumor. Going back to the army analogy, it is like determining what functions each cell can perform. This latter point is quite important since we need to activate some cells, while inhibiting others.
At the end of this Consortium, we will have accrued all the data that defines cancer as a collection of immunopathologies. From this, we will understand new ways to best diagnose and treat people in a personalized manner.