New Biomarker to Guide Cancer Immunotherapy

RNA expression of ERV3-2 (for 2 different primers) is signi´Čücantly higher in tumors from responders compared with tumors from non-responders.

Invention Summary:

Immunotherapy has led to dramatic responses in many cancer types, but only a minority of patients has clinical benefit. In certain cancers, including renal cell carcinoma, no clear correlation exists between mutation burden and response to immune checkpoint therapy. There is a great need currently to identify markers other than tumor mutation burden and PD-L1 expression that can identify individual tumors that are sensitive to immunotherapy, including immune checkpoint blockade. To look for other potential markers of immune activation, the Rutgers scientists have investigated the correlation between expression of endogenous retroviruses (ERV) and evidence of immune checkpoint activation in multiple cancer types.


Rutgers and Vanderbilt scientists identified certain endogenous retroviruses (ERVs), which are rarely expressed in most normal tissues, as biomarkers of tumors which respond to immune checkpoint therapy in clear cell renal cell cancer (ccRCC), and potentially in other cancers. The invention is to use measurements of abnormally high expression of ERV in human cancer tissues to guide treatment with immunotherapy, including treatment with therapeutic antibodies to PD-1, PD-L1, CTLA-4 either alone or in combination with other therapies. Measurement of ERV RNA expression as a biomarker can be implemented by methods including quantitative RT-PCR. This approach can help guide patient selection for use of therapeutic immunotherapy.


  • New biomarker for ccRCC
  • Potentially biomarker for other cancers (like-breast cancer, colon cancer, head and neck squamous cell cancers)


Market Applications:

  • Clinical assay kits to guide in cancer immunotherapy.


Intellectual Property & Development Status:

Patent pending. Available for licensing and/or research collaboration.



Panda, A. et al. (2018) JCI Insight.  3(16): 1-12.

Patent Information:
For Information, Contact:
Ryan Escolin
Licensing Manager, Life Sciences
Rutgers University
Cancer biomarkers