HOUSTON & SEATTLE—The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center and NanoString Technologies Inc. have inked a multi-year collaboration focused on accelerating the development and adoption of a new type of assay based on NanoString's nCounter Analysis System. Under this collaboration, the two organizations will work together to develop “multi-omic” assays that can simultaneously profile gene and protein expression, and will initially focus on identifying key biomarkers within immuno-oncology and extending programs for targeting therapeutics. While no financial details were disclosed, NanoString will be granted rights to research and diagnostic content developed under this collaboration.
"Our current PanCancer Pathway and Immune Profiling gene expression panels offer researchers powerful assays for understanding the tug-of-war between the drivers of tumor growth and the immune system's response," Brad Gray, president and CEO of NanoString Technologies, noted in a press release. "In collaboration with experts at MD Anderson, we will be adding a new proteomic dimension to these assays, and aiming to demonstrate their potential to inform drug development and selection."
The collaboration has a number of goals, including the development of multi-omic assays and signatures that can profile key oncology disease pathways and immune response from tumor tissue; incorporation of such assays into certain clinical studies conducted at MD Anderson to predict and monitor response to cancer immuno-therapies and targeted therapies; and identification of clinically actionable proteomic markers across multiple tumor types.
"These types of assays are designed to provide a powerful tool for comprehensively probing tumor biology. These assays have the potential to capture the biology needed to optimize the use of new cancer therapeutics, especially in the dynamic field of immuno-oncology, where matching patients with the right combination of therapies is critical, initially in clinical trials and then in patient treatment," Dr. Gordon Mills, chair of Systems Biology at MD Anderson, commented in a statement on the deal. Mills, who is co-director of the Sheikh Khalifa Bin Zayed Al Nahyan Institute for Personalized Cancer Therapy, will be leading this collaboration effort.
This is the second cancer-focused collaboration for MD Anderson so far this year. In late January, MD Anderson announced that it had begun a multi-year strategic research collaboration with AstraZeneca, under which they would conduct a number of parallel clinical and clinically related studies in ovarian and other gynecologic cancers in hopes of improving patient outcomes. The collaboration will focus on both clinical trials using investigational therapies as well as epidemiological and outcomes studies. MD Anderson scientists will have access to therapeutic agents within AstraZeneca's pipeline, and the collaboration will decide on future studies at a later date.
In other recent news for NanoString, the company plans to introduce new research panels for simultaneously measuring gene and protein expression, with the beta launch of the first panel intended for the 2015 annual meeting of the American Association for Cancer Research later this month.