Our Science

ATLASTM – Don’t Predict. Know.

We are in the midst of a T cell revolution, with significant investment devoted to the discovery of therapies than can harness the power of the T cell, a type of white blood cell and an important part of the immune system that protects us from infectious diseases and cancer. And there is growing excitement around a group of T cell targets called neoantigens. Neoantigens are personalized tumor mutations that are seen as ‘foreign’ by an individual’s immune system. While we know that targeting neoantigens can produce an immune response, conventional tools for identifying these neoantigens typically use algorithms or predictive models and have not yet produced optimal results. We have developed a technology, ATLASTM, that we believe finds the right T cell antigens and addresses the complex challenges that have confounded others in the past.

Previously presented head-to-head data show ATLAS to be a superior approach for identifying neoantigens for personalized vaccines compared to methods used by others developing similar products. ATLAS is the only platform to comprehensively identify the actual neoantigens to which a patient’s T cells respond. ATLAS is protected by several families of issued patents. ATLAS was originally developed by our scientific founder, Dr. Darren Higgins from Harvard University, and has been further refined by Genocea scientists over the past decade.

As depicted in this image, all possible neoantigens from a patient’s tumor are delivered individually into a patient’s own antigen presenting cells (APCs), which then process and present the antigens on the cell’s surface where they can be recognized by T cells. If a T cell recognizes and binds to the antigen, it triggers a cytokine response, which we measure to determine whether or not the candidate is a true neoantigen, and further, whether that neoantigen is “good,” or stimulatory, or “bad,” inhibitory.

By definitively identifying neoantigens to which patients make a pre-existing response, we can create personalized cancer vaccines to which patients are already primed. We can also use ATLAS to distinguish between responders and non-responders to cancer therapies, as well as to collect and aggregate data to identify neoantigens common across populations.