SAN DIEGO—Translational research is getting a boost thanks to a recently announced strategic partnership between Crown Bioscience’s (CrownBio) parent company, JSR Corporation, and Hubrecht Organoid Technology (HUB), which was founded by the Royal Netherlands Academy of Sciences and the University Medical Center Utrecht. Under the agreement, CrownBio gains an exclusive license to provide preclinical oncology drug development and validation services featuring HUB Organoid Technology, which includes access to HUB’s highly characterized tumor organoid bank. In addition, the two organizations will initiate a collaborative research and development program to advance development of Organoid Technology, and CrownBio will open a new operations center in Utrecht, Netherlands. Specific financial details for the deal were not disclosed.
“This agreement is a pivotal moment in our growth and the evolution of the company,” remarked Dr. Jean-Pierre Wery, CEO of CrownBio. “This partnership positions CrownBio at the forefront of global preclinical research by creating an unparalleled translational platform to accelerate drug development and validation.”
HUB’s organoids are derived from adult stem cells and were developed by Prof. Hans Clevers of the Hubrecht Institute in Utrecht. The organoids “are characterized by genome sequencing, expression profiling and sensitivity to known and experimental drugs to establish a database linking genetic and transcriptional information to drug responsiveness,” according to a press release. The technology can be licensed for preclinical drug screening, discovery, development and validation, and HUB is also exploring its potential as a companion diagnostic. HUB is advancing its organoid technology in developing mini-organs for drug testing, as well as in cancer, in which lab-grown miniature versions of patients’ tumors can give a better view of disease progression and drug response.
For its part, CrownBio is a global drug discovery and development solutions company that offers more than 2,500 well-characterized patient-derived xenograft (PDX) models for more than 30 different types of cancer, which it calls “the world’s largest collection of highly characterized PDX models.” The company offers in-vitro, in-vivo and ex-vivo services, as well as a variety of models available specifically for immuno-oncology. With this agreement, CrownBio will be able to provide comprehensive pharmacology and translational services based on HUB Organoid Technology, and the resulting platform will feature in-vitro screening of patient-derived organoids (PDO) and PDX-derived organoids (PDXO) matched to downstream in-vivo models.
“We are delighted with the increased access to HUB Organoid Technology for researchers worldwide through CrownBio’s global reach and preclinical service expertise,” Dr. Robert Vries, executive director of HUB, said in a press release. “Our partnership with CrownBio equips the drug development community with powerful new translational tools to guide the creation of novel and improved treatments for cancer.”
In other recent news regarding its translational efforts in cancer, CrownBio presented a total of 15 posters at the 2019 American Association for Cancer Research annual meeting. Featured prominently in the presentations were the company’s PDX and PDXO models, as well as other platforms such as its humanized mouse models and syngeneic mouse tumor homografts. The research that was presented included topics such as using syngeneic models to study the tumor microenvironment, studying the effects of anti-androgen therapy on PDX models of prostate cancer, evaluation of cancer organoids for ex-vivo drug screenings, the use of PDX models to evaluate drug efficacy, and the use of homograft models to evaluate the efficacy of combination immunotherapies, as well as specific looks at popular cancer targets such as PD-1, PD-L1 and CD40.