Ensemble, Roche Dx work heads for clinical trial arena

Ensemble Discovery Corp. recently extended a collaboration with Roche that will deploy Ensemble’s diagnostic assays in human clinical studies to analyze combinations of epidermal growth factor receptors (EGFR) present in various cancer tissues.

Jeffrey Bouley
CAMBRIDGE, Mass.—Ensemble Discovery Corp. recently extended a collaboration with Roche that will deploy Ensemble's diagnostic assays in human clinical studies to analyze combinations of epidermal growth factor receptors (EGFR) present in various cancer tissues.
Ensemble's original work with Roche began in July 2007 with an effort to provide proof of concept to use Ensemble's proprietary diagnostic technology for optimizing the selection of cancer therapies.

"Our previous collaboration demonstrated the ability of our assays to detect receptor dimers in human pathological samples. We are now going to work with Roche to extend the panel of assays against various members of the EGFR family and advance those assays into clinical studies," says Dr. David J. Livingston, senior vice president and head of the biodetection program at Ensemble Discovery.

The new phase of the collaboration remains focused on diagnostics, but it is also helping to highlight the power of Ensemble's platform, which Livingston says could easily be used for drug discovery work as well. That is precisely what Ensemble uses it for with a novel class of synthetic macrocycles called Ensemblins and the company's lead programs that target the TNF receptor and other members of the TNF receptor superfamily.

"The technology is broadly applicable to looking at assemblies of really any variety of proteins both intracellularly or extracellularly, so anyplace you have a target that involves interactions of two or more proteins, this platform could be used to address assays for those interactions," Livingston says. "This technology could be deployed much earlier in the drug development cycle for discovery, but for the purposes of this collaboration, what Roche wants is a companion diagnostic to characterize patient responses to new therapies." DDN

Jeffrey Bouley

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