May 26, 2021 | News & Notices Mass spectrometry technology contributed to the advancement of cancer immunotherapy
Discovering a Biomarker for Predicting the Clinical Outcome of Cancer Patients treated with a New Combination Immunotherapy in a Phase I Clinical Trial Conducted by Providence Cancer Institute, USA

Shimadzu Corporation (Shimadzu) collaborated with Drs. William Redmond and Brendan Curti of the Providence Cancer Institute (Portland, Oregon, USA) to find a biomarker for predicting the clinical outcome of cancer patients treated with a new combination immunotherapy (pembrolizumab + belapectin)*1.

Shimadzu analyzed the blood concentration of the immune checkpoint inhibitor pembrolizumab using mass spectrometry and nSMOL Antibody BA Kit*2. In this Phase I study, combination therapy with a galectin-3*3 inhibitor and immune checkpoint blockade has shown significant clinical responses in melanoma and head and neck squamous cell carcinoma. Shimadzu found that increased serum trough levels of pembrolizumab following belapectin + pembrolizumab therapy correlated with improved clinical outcome. This result suggests that the blood concentration of therapeutic monoclonal antibodies may be a potential biomarker for clinical outcome. “These results highlight the potential of mass spectrometry-based approaches to help us identify the patients most likely to benefit from immune checkpoint blockade immunotherapy,” said Dr. Redmond, Associate member and Director, Immune Monitoring Laboratory, at the Earle A. Chiles Research Institute, a division of Providence.

Since 2018, Providence and Shimadzu have been working together to develop technologies to identify mutation-derived unique tumor antigens for personalized immunotherapy (neoantigens) and to determine the pharmacokinetics of therapeutic antibodies in cancer immunotherapy. This study provides support for implementing mass spectrometry technologies to explore biomarkers of response following immunotherapy treatment of cancer patients.

Related information:

  • *1 Phase I clinical trial of GR-MD-02 Plus Pembrolizumab in Melanoma, Non-small Cell Lung Cancer, and Squamous Cell Head and Neck Cancer Patients, NCT02575404.
  • *2 Easy and high-accuracy monoclonal antibody assay using this kit with liquid chromatography mass spectrometry (LC-MS) 
  • *3 Galactoside-binding protein galectin-3 is highly expressed in many cancers and it can promote the progression and metastasis of cancer. The combination therapy of galectin-3 inhibitor belapectin and immune checkpoint blockade with anti-PD-1 (pembrolizumab) may restore immune cell activity and improve cancer immunotherapy. Galectin Therapeutics is developing galectin-3 targeted drugs.


For more information, please refer to the following original paper published in Journal for Immunotherapy of Cancer.

Enhancing clinical and immunological effects of anti-PD-1 with belapectin, a galectin-3 inhibitor.
Curti BD, Koguchi Y, Leidner RS, Rolig AS, Sturgill ER, Sun Z, Wu Y, Rajamanickam V, Bernard B, Hilgart-Martiszus I, Fountain CB, Morris G, Iwamoto N, Shimada T, Chang S, Traber PG, Zomer E, Horton JR, Shlevin H, Redmond WL.
Journal for Immunotherapy of Cancer. 2021, 9(4):e002371.


About Providence Cancer Institute

Providence Cancer Institute, a part of Providence St. Joseph Health, offers the latest in cancer services, including diagnostic, treatment, prevention, education, support and internationally renowned research. Providence Cancer Institute is home to the Earle A. Chiles Research Institute, a world-class research facility located within the Robert W. Franz Cancer Center in Portland, Oregon, and is a recognized leader in the field of cancer immunotherapy since 1993. Investigators lead more than 400 active clinical trials in key areas such as cancers of the: breast, colon/rectum, prostate, lung, esophagus, liver and pancreas, head and neck, ovary, skin and blood. Other studies are investigating treatments for COVID-19. Learn more at