Forging an oncology collaboration

Caliper Life Sciences partners with Catholic Health Initiatives to develop improved methods for the discovery of cancer drugs

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HOPKINTON, Mass.—Caliper Life Sciences Inc. has unveiled anew collaboration with Catholic Health Initiatives (CHI) of Denver in which thepartners will develop methods for evaluating and predicting the effectivenessof new cancer drugs.
Under this program, the Colorado health system's Center forTranslation Research (CTR) will provide fresh human tumor samples to CaliperDiscovery Alliances & Services (CDAS), a Caliper unit, which will performbiomarker and standard-of-care drug resistance/sensitivity studies on thesesamples.
According to the partners, optimized 3D cell assays orassays performed on human tumor cells maintained in a similar tumormicroenvironment under the skin of mice may provide valuable information tobetter predict drug efficacy in humans.
CDAS provides oncology drug discovery assays based on avariety of biological output parameters such as proliferation, viability,apoptosis or specific biomarkers applied under conventional monolayer cellculture conditions, while Caliper has a broad range of services, alliances andtools for oncology research and drug development—and the company is rapidlyexpanding into the biomarker and companion diagnostics segments. 
This collaboration allows these testing methods to beextended to fresh tumor cells maintained under potentially more natural anddisease-relevant conditions.
CDAS will grow the CTR samples under various experimentalconditions, including traditional two-dimensional cell culture,three-dimensional in-vitro culture and in-vivo culture in mice, and CTR will supply key treatmenthistory and diagnostic data for these tumor sources.
"This will include treatment history on the patient fromwhom the tumor samples are obtained, pathology assessment, stage of cancer,post-surgical patient follow-up data, and potentially other clinicaldiagnostics information generated or obtained by CTR," David Manyak, executivevice president of drug discovery services at Caliper, notes. "This contributionby CTR will complement the data collected by Caliper in our research labs tohelp define the optimal cancer cell growth conditions and evaluate the patternsof biomarker expression for clinical relevance."
Jeffrey Otto, national director of CTR, says the researchwill begin with solid tumors, focusing on lung and colon cancers at first andprogressing to other cancers as the collaboration unfolds. Otto notes that as adrug is being developed, it is important that it is tested against somethingthat represents the in-vivo state.
"At the same time, by being able to provide molecularprofiling of these particular samples that are human samples that came out ofpeople with those cancers, we are going to be able to more tightly identify thepathways being used [and] their metabolic status and these will help describethe population that these sorts of drugs will work in," he adds.
Kevin Hrusovsky, president and CEO of Caliper, says thatwith increasing incidence of oncology drug candidates failing in late-stageclinical trials, and with rapidly expanding knowledge of clinically relevantbiomarkers, it is critical to develop comprehensive and disease-relevant cancermodels that can be used to guide patient stratification to improve clinicalsafety and efficacy. 
"Taken together, our personalized medicine strategies shouldfacilitate the development of therapeutics and companion diagnostics toultimately improve treatment success rates," Hrusovsky says.
Otto adds, "Partnerships such as this one are essential toour mission at the CTR to help advance personalized medicine. Drugs aren'tdeveloped for people—they are developed, even in personalized medicine, forpopulations. You want to find a person who fits within that population and itappears to be a personalized therapy."
"Fundamentally," adds Manyak, "nobody has done anythingquite like this before. We want them to be successful and through our operation.We are able to provide them with the samples so they end up with a prettyrobust program. Long-term, I would like to see the collaboration expanded intoother areas."

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