Pre-Conference Day

Kick-start the conference with a scientific deep dive into the natural biology of innate immune cells. Use this knowledge to inform therapeutic development decisions to develop potent, persistent, and efficient innate immune cell therapies.

Attending this deep dive day will help you to:

• Cement your understanding of innate immune cell biology and how the innate immune response is orchestrated

• Define NK cell differentiation, memory, migration, maturation, and the role activation and inhibitory pathways to identify rational therapeutic avenues to harness the innate immune system

• Discuss the characteristics of innate immune cells, contrast different immune call functions, and explore how analytical methods are being advanced to define what ‘good’ looks like for a therapeutic candidate

Biology Bootcamp Day

8.30am - 6.00pm

8.30 am Session A: Innate Immune Biology & Function

Setting Innate Cells in the Context of the Immune System: Examining the Interactions and Mechanisms of Action for Recognition and Killing

  • Outlining the natural function of the innate immune system, the roles, and interactions of each cell type in the immune response to cancer and infectious disease
  • Highlighting the key differences between innate and adaptive immune responses, and how they work together
  • Describing the mechanism of action by which the innate immune system identifies target cells or ‘mutants’

Neil Sheppard, Adjunct Associate Professor, University of Pennsylvania

Innate Killer Cells: From Discovery to Current Development

  • Discussing how innate natural killer (NK) cells were discovered
  • Highlighting the first insights into their molecular specificity
  • Outlining the research paving the way to their clinical use in settings of cancer immunotherapy

Hans-Gustaf Ljunggren, Professor, Karolinska Institutet

What Makes a Great Killer Cell for Immunotherapy?

  • Identifying different innate cell types and discussing their biology and differences
  • What factors contribute to great innate cellular therapy for a given indication?
  • Characterizing ‘good’ NK and gamma delta cells, describing desirable phenotypes, and developing analytical tools tailored to innate immune cells
  • Questioning ‘what should the pharmacokinetics of an innate immune therapy look like to be successful?’ Are CAR-T cells the best benchmark?

Todd Fehniger, Professor of Medicine, Washington University School of Medicine, St. Louis

10.30 am Morning Break & Refreshments

11.00 am Session B: Innate Immune Cells as a Therapeutic Modality

Discussing the Current Challenges, Failures, and Lessons Learned in Innate Immune Assessments

  • Highlighting challenges in therapy development at the preneoplastic and neoplastic stages of tumorigenesis
  • Delineating the interactions between the innate immune system and adaptive immune system, in particular between NK and CD8+ T cells, highlighting pathways for up and down regulation and modulation of function
  • Tracking cells in vivo by the means of both phenotypic and functional analysis to understand cell trafficking and natural migratory pathways and implications for application in a variety of therapeutic indications
  • Discussing how innate immune cells regulate and mature other cell types such as Tregs, Th2 suppressor cells, and MDSCs, and how this can be leveraged therapeutically
  • Highlighting the significance of super-charged NK cells in eliminating cancer stem cells/ poorly differentiated tumors both in direct cytotoxicity and ADCC; observed differences with primary activated NK cells using both genetic and proteomic analysis

Anahid Jewett, Professor & Director Tumor Immunology Laboratory, UCLA

Outlining Approaches to Targeting Solid Tumors with NK Cell Therapies

  • Discussing key barriers to success in solid tumor indications, and NK cell characteristics which pose challenges and advantages in this indication
  • Highlighting current approaches to solid tumor therapy from engineering to combination and manufacturing techniques
  • Overcoming the challenges of infiltrating the solid tumor, sharing key data on NK cell infiltration

Uriel Moreno, Scientist, Johnson & Johnson*

*Findings presented will be from previous research at Stanford University, not Johnson & Johnson

1.00pm Lunch Break

2.00pm Session C: Characterizing ‘Good’ Innate Immune Therapies

Tracking Cells In Vivo and Engineering Cells to Drive Tumor-Specific Homing

  • Discussing the importance of understanding where cells go, which cell subsets they interact directly with, and how this can inform therapeutic design
  • Sharing strategies to label and track engineered cell therapies with MRI and PET scans in vivo to investigate where cells accumulate, the proportion of the dose that is exposed to the tumor, and to monitor in vivo persistence
  • Providing an overview of strategies to enhance homing to tumor tissues such as chemokine expression, chemokine receptor knock outs, how these approaches function in vivo, and the relative challenges of these approaches

Emily Levy, Senior Scientist, Merck

Characterizing Cell Behaviours, Phenotypes, and Cell-Cell Contacts from Biological Principles to Manufactured Products

  • Leveraging co-culture in vitro methods, developing, and implementing machine learning algorithms to characterize cells based on phenotypes
  • Profiling cells in tissues to investigate localization, homing, and impact of migration on NK cell differentiation
  • Investigating signalling and cell-cell contacts during manufacturing and expansion in cell and cell-free culture and the impact on development

Emily Mace, Assistant Professor of Pediatric Immunology, Columbia University

4.00 Miltenyi Biotec Ambassador reception

6.00 End of Deep Dive Day


Workshop Day

8.30am - 6.00pm

8.30am Workshop A

Understanding Solid Tumor Biology to Inform Therapeutic Strategy

  • Understanding the role of NK cells in multiple steps of the tumor immunity cycle
  • Discussion of using cytokine and immune effector combinations to induce anti-tumor immune responses in syngeneic tumor models
  • Exploring cytokine and combo arming of CAR-NK cells
  • Learning how IL-12 secreting CAR-NK cells to engage the host immune system
  • Armoring NK cells to prevent immune suppression (blocking TGFb, NKG2A, etc)
  • Discussing the activation of NK cells and Innate Immune cells in the solid tumor microenvironment
  • Examining the adhesion molecules and receptors on innate immune cells which may be modulated by or aid homing to solid tumors
  • Highlighting the solid tumor factors which may inhibit NK and gamma delta T cell function in the solid tumor setting
  • Weighing the advantages and drawbacks of innate immune vs. T cells in the solid tumor
  • Identifying factors that currently cause NK and gamma delta T cells to fail in the solid tumor setting, from homing to infiltration, persistence, exhaustion, target identification, and cytotoxicity
  • Considering the role of innate immune cells in activating and helping CD4 and CD8 T cells, and how the adaptive immune system activation aids solid tumor clearance

Alba Gonzalez, Director of Research, Senti Biosciences

Mark Lowdell, CSO, INmune Bio

10.30 am Morning Break & Refreshments

11.00am Workshop B

Examining Cell Engineering Approaches for Enhanced Persistence, Migration and Solid Tumor Efficacy

  • Outlining current strategies and contrasting editing tools to engineer next-generation innate killer cells
  • Describing the rationale to identify, engineer and express a new receptor or gene in cell therapy, to achieve the desired function
  • Discussing how to engineer cell therapies against the solid tumor, opportunities to engineer growth factor secretion to suppress the tumor microenvironment, and how to avoid immune suppression
  • Outlining approaches to armour innate immune cells against the solid tumor microenvironment, co-stimulation strategies to supercharge function, and ways to maximize homing to the tumor site
  • Considering how engineering impacts viability, exhaustion, efficacy and survival in vivo and strategies to optimize gene editing to maximize in vivo function
  • Ensuring continuity of expression through amplification, and demonstrating uniform expression levels in manufactured cell populations
  • Creating engineering and manufacturing workflows that guide differentiation and influence migration

Evren Alici, Head of Cell & Gene Therapy Group, Karolinska Institutet
James Trager, CSO, NKarta

1.00 pm Lunch Break

Workshop C

2.00pm Optimizing Cryopreservation of Innate Immune Cell Therapies to Support Higher Quality Product

  • Understanding the fundamental biology of innate immune cells, and why they require differentiated cryopreservation protocols to minimize damage and maximize viability
  • Discussing why there is an impact on cytotoxicity resulting from cryopreservation
  • Developing DMSO-free cryopreservation protocols to minimize damage to innate immune cells
  • Sharing tried and tested procedures to cryopreserve and thaw innate immune cells with minimial loss of function and cytotoxicity
  • Standardizing cryopreservation protocols to minimize industry-wide complexity at the clinical site, whilst appreciating the variation in cell types and constructs
  • Discussing how best to fill and finish NK cell products ready to cryopreserve
  • Building cryopreservation into fresh product protocols to manage the risk of disruption and delay in treatment using lessons learned from COVID delays

Christian Capitini, Associate Professor of Pediatrics, University of Wisconsin-Madison

Sandro Matosevic, Assistant Professor, Purdue University

Marcia Blackmoore, CMC Project Leader, Genomic Medicines Unit, Sanofi

4.00pm Miltenyi Biotec Ambassador reception

6.00pm End of Deep Dive Day