Immunotherapy is considered the future of cancer therapy. It harnesses the body’s own immune system to attack and kill cancer cells.

Immunotherapy is the up and coming field of medicine that offers a more nuanced way to treat cancer than traditional chemotherapy. Chemotherapy generally works by delivering a broad punch which is often accompanied by severe side effects.

A number of cancer immunotherapies have already shown standout results in clinical trials, including partial and complete responses in patients with advanced cancer.

Although the interest and support for immunotherapies is increasing in the biotech and pharmaceutical space, the drugs don’t work for every cancer patient. Researchers are attempting to change that by identifying more high-performing immune cells that could be used to develop new immunotherapies.

The field of bioinformatics combines elements of computer science and biology and has risen from the flood of data being generated by newly available genomic sequencing tests.

Engineers collaborated with physicians to invent new software that can pinpoint tens of thousands and even hundreds of thousands of those cells. Researchers are particularly interested in how various types of T-cells can kill cancer cell.

The software has been dubbed TIMING, which stands for Time-lapse Imaging Microscopy in Nanowell Grids.

There is still a need to develop tools and techniques in order to unravel the interactions between the immune cells and the tumor cells.

Conventional analysis of these cells is done manually, by assessing between 10 and 100 samples of cells at a time.

TIMING tracks individual cell-to-cell interactions by using a time-lapse video recording to look at isolated samples of immune cells and cancer cells though an expandable structure called a nanowell grid.

The software combines the power of a supermicroscope and a supercomputer to look at cell-to-cell interactions on a large scale. By using TIMING researchers were able to observe how different types of T-cells function against cancer cells.

The technology is still in its early stages and there are still improvements to be made.

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Gerry Oginski
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