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Product Q&A with Ian Schillebeeckx

 In Advanced Applications, Cofactor Genomics, Molecular Diagnostics, Q&A

Take a Deep Dive into our Predictive Modeling Product, ImmunoPrism

In this week’s Q&A, we’re chatting with Ian Schillebeeckx, our Senior Product Development Manager about ImmunoPrism™ and how it came to be. We’ll cover the history of developing robust RNA-Seq solutions for challenging samples and how it has influenced our products today.

Q: How does Cofactor’s history of providing high quality RNA-seq services influence your products?

A: Cofactor has a fairly long history in working with RNA and have really become experts in it. This has not only enabled us to become very skilled and gain a lot of experience in RNA, but it’s really impacted how we think about RNA. We believe that RNA is really the best way to measure and characterize the small biological changes that really impact health, physiology, and phenotype. When we are developing assays and diagnostics, we believe that RNA is the molecule that should be able to give us assays, which are insightful and diagnostics which are predictive.

Q: Why was it important for Cofactor to offer the assays they develop as reagent kits and complimentary informatics?

A: Cofactors lab is CAP certified and we have a lot of experience creating libraries from samples and analyzing them. But we recognize that a lot of folks in different institutions have created a lot of that same infrastructure and developed a lot of those same capabilities. We find that they still find a lot of value in ImmunoPrism™, so we created a kit version of a ImmunoPrism™ so that these types of folks can use their own hands and use their own sequencers and still get the insights and predictive biomarkers that ImmunoPrism™ delivers.

Q: What’s different between the service version of ImmunoPrism™ and the kit?

A: Actually in terms of sample prep analysis and the final results, the kit and service are exactly the same. In fact when we run the service in-house, we are just opening up the kit and using those same reagents. The cool thing about having the kit is that customers can really leverage all the molecular and analysis fine tuning optimization that we’ve done and have run while still using their own resources their own facilities.

Q: How does Cofactor’s ImmunoPrism™ assay fit into the bigger picture? Specifically, with regards to the discipline of Predictive Immune Modeling?

A: ImmunoPrism™ is fundamentally a predictive modeling product that delivers a multidimensional biomarker. I think it’s interesting at a high level because delivers in a very data driven way but also a very hypothesis driven way. The multidimensional biomarker is learned by using machine learning and considering two different cohorts of samples, and these samples are characterized by using our Health Expression Models, which indicates the relative abundance of different immune cells in the sample. In this later example of a very hypothesis driven way, you expect the samples to be different in the way that the immune response is happening in the body. The connection is interesting to me because you get both the strengths of a hypothesis driven method and a data driven method while mitigating all the weaknesses. I think that’s only possible in how we’ve set up ImmunoPrism™ as a predictive modeling product.

Q: How do Health Expression Models compare to other immune measurement techniques?

A: I think health expression models is a much more multi-dimensional approach versus looking at similar analytes. If you consider the ones that are popular in immuno-oncology, specifically PDL 1, they’re really looking at one single change that’s happening in the body that’s inducing some phenotype, or at least that’s hypothesis. On the other hand, Health Expression Models are really considering all the many small changes that happen in the body that define the phenotype. In our case, we believe that using the small changes that distinguish CD4 cell from the T or CD8 cell are much more powerful than using more traditional single analyte measurement techniques.

Questions about Cofactor or our product offerings?  Reach out to schedule a time to speak with one of our Project Scientists today.


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