Large-scale proficiency panels aim at providing immediate feedback to all participants about their performance relative to the other group members (external validation).
Since Fall 2013, such panels have been proposed by Immudex for Elispot and HLA-multimer assays. In addition to their function as a quality control tool, each panel phase compares individual protocols and can be used to identify distinct critical variables that are predictive for high or low assay performance, with the aim of improving assay performance (assay optimization). After verification in subsequent panels, assay-specific recommendations are formulated as guidelines (assay harmonization).
CIP also proposes small to mid-scale exploratory and development panels for testing new technologies and novel aspects relevant to the members and the community (development/ innovation). While earlier efforts were focused on the measurement of antigen-specific CD8+ T cells, CIP is extending its area of interest to other immune cells relevant for immunotherapy, such as Tregs, MDSCs and NK cells.
Since 2005, CIP has organized and completed 11 proficiency panels for IFN-γ Elispot, HLA-peptide multimer staining or Intracellular Cytokine Staining, as well as 8 exploratory panels. The first MDSC and NK cell panels are completed. All panels are designed, prepared and organized by the managing committee with the help of panel co-organizers who are expert members of the CIP group. A list summarizing all proficiency panel phases including ongoing activities can be downloaded. The reports of all completed proficiency panels are available upon request. Results of testing phases are published in peer-reviewed journals. Protocols for Elispot, HLA-multimer staining, guidelines and recommendations for long-term storage of MHC-multimers are freely available.
CIP membership : From 2005 to 2010, CIP proficiency panels and others activities were free-of-charge for the participants. Due to the growing number of interested labs and acceleration of the proficiency panel program, ways to financially support CIP were discussed. In 2011, a fixed participation fee of €500 was introduced for academic labs, a substantially higher participation fee was asked from industrial members. This contribution covers reagent preparation, panel and workshop organization, as well as educational aspects.
CIMT supports CIP members by reducing the registration fee for the CIMT Annual Meeting.
One of the main objectives of CIP is to help members establish, standardize and improve T-cell assays in their laboratories. CIP therefore organizes intensive wet workshops.
So far, 6 wet workshops have been organized to address practical aspects of T-cell assays and their analysis (Elispot, Fluorospot, ICS, HLA-multimer staining, flow data analysis, quality assurance of flow cytometers). Three of these workshops were organized in cooperation with the Helmholtz Center HGMU (Munich, Germany) and the Netherlands Cancer Institute (Amsterdam, The Netherlands). Wet workshops are:
⊙ Two to three days long
⊙ Organized for 4-8 participants
⊙ Free of charge (travelling and accomodation not included)
⊙ Priority is given to CIP members
Two workshops regrouping experts in their field were recently organized for discussing priority topics such as Tregs or automated analysis of flow cytometry.