Scientists at Cytel recently published a paper in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA). Among the authors is Neha Sati, Research Associate at Cytel. I had the opportunity to speak to Neha about the start of her professional journey with Cytel and the study findings from the JAMA paper.
Tell us about your background and how did you choose this career path?
I completed my BSc in Biology and Pharmacology from McMaster University in Canada, a year back. My first exposure to the realm of health research was at Lighthouse Outcomes (A Cytel company), as part of my co-op program. After graduating, I had the clarity that I wanted to gain some work experience before going back to academics. The role at Cytel involved working with real-world evidence and it felt like a good fit for me.
What is your role at Cytel?
I am a research associate at Cytel. My role involves the execution of systematic literature reviews, and I also perform project coordination duties.
What functions do you collaborate closely with?
I collaborate closely with other research associates, statisticians, the team leads and project managers at Cytel and our clients. We work together to ensure efficient, accurate and timely presentation of our project deliverables.
What are your key research interests?
While my research interests are always evolving, currently, I am very interested in immunology and cancer research. In general, I like to stay updated on the various knowledge synthesis research methodologies, as it is directly related to my field of work.
You were a part of the Cytel team that recently published a study aiming to identify those baseline factors which influence a positive response to an established therapy for Kidney Cancer. Can you tell us briefly about your findings?
I worked closely with Dr. Paul Arora and Dr. Devon J Boyne to publish a paper on factors that modify the response to immunotherapies in metastatic clear cell renal cell carcinoma patients. Programmed cell death 1/programmed cell death ligand 1 (PD-1/PD-L1) inhibitors are immune checkpoint inhibitors widely used in the treatment of metastatic clear cell renal cell carcinoma (ccRCC) and other cancers.
To our knowledge, no review has been conducted on factors associated with differential response to ICIs in metastatic ccRCC. To address this gap, we conducted a systematic review and meta-analysis of subgroup findings from Phase 2/3 randomized clinical trials to determine which baseline factors are associated with response to anti–PD-1/PD-L1 treatment in patients with metastatic ccRCC, with respect to survival outcomes.
From an initial 662 reports, a total of 9 publications representing 7 unique trials were included in the final review. Six trials were included in the quantitative meta-analyses. We found that the response to anti–PD-1/PD-L1 inhibitors was diminished for the following patient groups: older adults (≥75 years), patients with low levels of PD-L1 expression (<1%), patients with a favorable or intermediate MSKCC risk score, and patients without sarcomatoid differentiation.
Tell us about the novel methods.
We used a novel methodologic approach of predicting differential response to treatment across trials in which subgroup-specific HRs, extracted from subgroup analyses, were pooled via a random-effects meta-analytic model. This approach made it possible to account for the lack of precision in the subgroup analyses presented within the individual trials by pooling findings across trials.
What do you see your study accomplishing?
Our paper can inform other meta-analyses and trial designs for future trials in the mRCC setting. Further, this work can inform future multivariable prognostic models that combine information from several variables to predict treatment response.
What most inspires you about working within this field?
What excites me the most is the fact that the change we can make through our work is quite tangible. For example, I am currently working with a pharmaceutical client to address differences in regulatory practices across different countries. To me, this is very exciting because it is directly addressing the issue of access to care that patients have. In general, I also enjoy the dynamic team environments that I constantly work in.
What are your main interests outside of work?
I love to lead an active lifestyle. To me, this includes not only exercise, but a focus on general mobility and mindfulness. When I was first getting adjusted to working from home, I sat at my desk all day and barely took time to stretch or walk around. I have since made a big effort to continue to be active throughout the day. I also dismantled my bed and have been sleeping on the floor for the past month!
I also enjoy penpaling, putting furniture together, mowing the lawn, watching movies, video editing, and spending time with my family.
Thank you for taking the time to talk to us and sharing your journey.
Learn more about the findings of the study published in JAMA by clicking below.