Our CSO Patrice Hugo recently sat with members of The Conference Forum at the Immuno-Oncology 360° 2019 conference, where he discussed immuno-oncology (IO) lab services. He shared the company's capabilities and investments planned to best serve sponsors and clients working on IO drug development, as well as the future of IO testing.
Interviewer: What is your company’s aim to solve in the IO (Immuno-Oncology) space?
PH: Q2 Solutions is a lab service provider and moving into the IO space made sense as many sponsors, including top pharmas, biopharmas, and small biotechs, have been coming to us in the past five years asking for more IO solutions. It started with PD(L)-1, but in the last two to three years, we’ve seen a definite paradigm shift into more complex modalities and requests for very specific biomarker testing solutions.
Two years ago, we launched an internal IO initiative to identify gaps in our service offerings and put together a roadmap on how to quickly fill those gaps. We’ve been able to make significant investments into technologies and people while also improving our processes to adjust to the demand of IO testing. For instance, we’re now moving from regular 10-color flow cytometry to new generation instruments that allow us to do up to 40-color flow. Our central lab now will be able to offer this, so we’re leading the industry. These capabilities are going to be extremely useful for CAR T and other cell therapies, as well as for more conventional modalities, to better for instance, predict drug response and enumerate CAR T.
A second area where we are investing is digital pathology. This will allow pathologists around the world to look at images for complex anatomic pathology biomarker testing in different indications. The third area is genomics. We have been at the forefront of cutting-edge technologies for a long time and we want to be able to support protocol requirements. We pride ourselves on our ability to be nimble and respond to customer demand, and that’s why over the last two years, we’ve been extremely aggressive in our IO investments.
Interviewer: What, in your opinion is the future outlook in the IO space?
PH: The biology is getting more complex, so that means it’s going to be equally complex from a testing perspective. It is probably safe to assume that in the future, no one tool will be able to answer all the questions. We’ll have to analyze data not only from a genomic or flow cytometry or anatomic pathology point of view in a silo, but we’ll have to combine all the data together. In response, we’re making new investments in artificial intelligence and data analytics to be able to look at the data in a holistic way and provide that service to our customers. I think that’s the future.
For the full interview and photos from Immuno-Oncology 360° 2019, please click here.