Protagen AG collaborates with UCSF to study better immuno-profiling of cancer patients receiving immunotherapy

Research Insight

Protagen AG has announced the start of a collaboration with the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF) to utilize Protagen’s SeroTag® technology to investigate the immuno-profiling of prostate cancer patients treated with checkpoint inhibitors and therapeutic vaccines.

Cancer immunotherapies can be very powerful and provide novel opportunities for the treatment of cancer. However, they currently work for a limited number of indications and patients. In addition, as these therapies re-activate the immune system to fight the cancer, they sometimes can cause severe immune-related Adverse Events (irAEs).

Through the collaboration, Protagen and UCSF intend to provide further insight into utilizing immune system profiling to predict treatment response and monitor prostate cancer patients for irAEs, specifically, a so-called cold tumor that it is difficult to target with immuno-therapies.

Dr. Peter Schulz-Knappe, Protagen’s Chief Scientific Officer, commented: “Our proprietary SeroTag® technology has enabled patient stratification and immuno-profiling of patients into homogenous disease subgroups for several autoimmune indications.

The strong link between immuno-oncology and autoimmune disease, confirmed by the observed irAEs under immunotherapy, provides us with an opportunity to improve immuno-profiling of cancer patients. We feel honored that Dr. Fong and UCSF share this view and we are excited about our collaboration, especially in an indication like prostate cancer that has shown to be difficult to target with immuno-therapies.”

Dr. Lawrence Fong, the UCSF Efim Guzik Distinguished Professor in Cancer Biology and leader of the Cancer Immunotherapy Program in the UCSF Helen Diller Family Comprehensive Cancer Center added: “Although cancer immunotherapies can be effective in many different cancers, success in prostate cancer has been more limited. Nevertheless, we know that a small proportion of prostate cancer patients can respond to monotherapies. Immunologic profiling of these patients could enable approaches to patient selection. This collaboration could provide opportunities to accomplish this goal.”

About UC San Francisco (UCSF)
UCSF is a leading university dedicated to promoting health worldwide through advanced biomedical research, graduate-level education in the life sciences and health professions, and excellence in patient care. It includes top ranked graduate schools of dentistry, medicine, nursing and pharmacy; a graduate division with nationally renowned programs in basic, biomedical, transitional and population sciences; and a preeminent biomedical research enterprise.

It also includes UCSF Health, which comprises three top-ranked hospitals, UCSF Medical Center and UCSF Benioff Children's Hospitals in San Francisco and Oakland, and other partner and affiliated hospitals and healthcare providers throughout the Bay Area.

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About Protagen
Headquartered in Dortmund, Germany, Protagen is dedicated to the development of powerful precision diagnostic tools that aid successful therapeutic development and facilitate improved treatment strategies in the areas of immuno-oncology and autoimmune disease.

Protagen is currently using SeroTag® to uncover the power of autoantibodies as biomarkers for irAE and therapeutic response prediction in cancer, which will enable the development of safer, more effective immunotherapies.

For more information, please visit

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