Sam Cooper, Phd, CTO, Phenomic Sam completed his PhD at Imperial College London, using novel machine learning approaches to answer questions in biology and drug discovery. Following his PhD Sam Co-founded Phenomic who have now raised over $16m from leading biotech investors, possess an experienced management team, and are backed by luminaries in stromal and immune oncology. Sam and Phenomics’ goal is to develop mAbs that target fibroblast biology and improve outcomes for patients with challenging solid cancers.
With machine-learning we have built a pan-cancer single-cell RNA atlas comprising over 70 published scRNA datasets; this lets us dissect how the composition of the tumor microenvironment correlates with patient outcomes and target biology. Focusing on the stroma, we have mapped cancer-associated fibroblast sub-types to our atlas. Here, CTHRC1 defines an extracellular matrix-producing cancer-associated fibroblast (ecmCAF) that, in turn, is enriched in immune-excluded/desert tumors. Candidate therapeutic mAbs we developed against CTHRC1 stimulate immune infiltration and block cancer growth in challenging syngeneic models, indicating a functional role for CTHRC1. Together, we show that scRNA atlases enable unprecedented dissection of tumor microenvironment biology and reveal CTHRC1 as a new antibody target on CAFs.