Crown to commercialize prostate cancer models

University of York’s unique collection of PDX models to be applied to drug development

Jeffrey Bouley
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SANTA CLARA, Calif.—Prostate cancer is the second most common cancer in men, impacting more than 14 million patients worldwide, notes Crown Bioscience Inc., while also pointing out that the disease has long been underrepresented at the preclinical modeling stage of drug development.
As it happens, Crown Bioscience—a global drug discovery and development services company providing translational platforms to advance oncology and metabolic disease research—thinks it has an answer to at least part of the problem. Specifically, Crown has forged a deal with the University of York in the United Kingdom to exclusively license and commercialize the university’s unique collection of patient-derived xenograft (PDX) models for prostate cancer.
Crown is anticipating significant demand for this new service offering.
“This agreement benefits cancer researchers around the world because these models will now become more widely available,” said Dr. Jean-Pierre Wery, president of Crown Bioscience. “With this agreement, we can offer researchers one of the largest, if not the largest, collection of well-validated prostate cancer PDX models. The university’s models will be marketed alongside our industry-leading HuPrime collection and run to CrownBio’s meticulous standard.”
CrownBio intends to expand characterization, including next-generation sequencing, of the models and ultimately to develop new models resistant to current clinical therapies. Derived from primary tissue, the collection includes pretreated and naïve material, plus examples of both clinically diagnosed castration-resistant and hormone-sensitive prostate cancers.
The models were developed by Dr. Anne Collins in the laboratory of Prof. Norman Maitland in the Department of Biology at the University of York, with major funding from the independent regional charity Yorkshire Cancer Research (YCR).
“Since setting up the YCR Cancer Research Unit at the University of York in 1980, our researchers have advanced our understanding of the genetic makeup of prostate cancer and how it can be detected and treated. These models can now become a resource for researchers all over the world,” said Charles Rowett, CEO at Yorkshire Cancer Research.
“We’re delighted to work with CrownBio, the market leader in PDX and translational models, to help us bring these models to the wider research community,” said Maitland, who also is director of the YCR Cancer Research Unit at York. “For many years, the preclinical development of the new therapies, sorely needed for prostate cancer, has relied on testing in models derived in the 1980s. Researchers will now be able to use multiple near-patient xenografts from different stages and grades of prostate cancer. This initiative should provide the best indicator yet to drug developers of the particular patient group in which a new treatment will be most effective.”
In other licensing news for the preclinical contract research organization, Crown  announced recently the licensing of its proprietary HuBase 2.0 software architecture to several pharmaceutical and biotech companies.
As a result, CrownBio clients will be now able to manage their internal PDX portfolio on the model of CrownBio’s bespoke HuBase technology platform, a database of curated PDX models including genomic profiling and in-vivo pharmacology data, as well as tumor pathology images. HuBase will become available as either a fully managed software-as-a-service solution or as a private installation on customers’ own internal servers which they can run autonomously.
“We are thrilled to be able to provide our clients a technology solution that helps them mine their PDX collection”, said Laurie Heilmann, senior vice president of global strategy, marketing and business development for Crown. “Excitingly this licensing program really started as a response to customer requests, who found HuBase intuitive and user friendly and asked if it could be made available for their own collections of models. We are confident that our technology platforms will have a positive impact on the way our clients maintain their data and will ultimately accelerate their drug discovery programs.”

Jeffrey Bouley

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