That two may become one

MDS Pharma’s OncoPanel combined with Compendia’s Oncomine to help speed development of cancer drugs

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KING OF PRUSSIA, Pa.—With an eye toward improving the development of drugs to treat cancer, MDS Pharma Services, a provider of innovative drug discovery and development solutions, has entered into a strategic collaboration with Compendia Bioscience Inc. to provide OncoPredictor, which combines MDS Pharma Services' OncoPanel with Compendia Bioscience's Oncomine.

This fusion of products is expected to provide a novel solution that will help identify cancer patient populations that are most likely to respond to a new or existing cancer therapy.

OncoPanel offers high-content screening of as many as 240 cancer cell lines for sensitivity to specific cancer drugs and drug combinations. Compendia's Oncomine, a database of cancer genomic profiles coupled with a Web-enabled analysis application, provides genomic characterization and comparison of cancer cell lines to 2,000 disease signatures from more than 27,000 reference patients based on molecular, pathological and histological sub-types.

Paired up in the OncoPredictor system, they will analyze drug sensitivity and resistance of novel drugs and drug combinations to identify associations with both disease sub-types and underlying tumor biology.

"The challenge with many in vitro experiments is that they lack the scale to represent the diversity of cancer," notes Dan Rhodes, CEO of Compendia Bioscience. "MDS Pharma Services provides this scale. But, in order to translate the sensitivity data into clinical development, it is critical to be able to correlate sensitivity with genomic biomarkers.  And further, genomic biomarkers are not useful if they are not translated to clinical populations. Compendia provides the genomic biomarker discovery capability and its Oncomine database of 27,000 reference patients provides the background on which to map these biomarkers to identify likely sensitive patient populations."

Compendia had been in discussions with other companies looking for this kind of data, but many of those companies lacked that capacity for 200 or more cell lines. Such capacity is necessary, the companies maintain, because statistically, the large cell panel is where the most distinctive and non-obvious information can be discovered. A common customer referred Compendia to MDS Pharma Services, which had performed 300 cell line analyses for that customer.

In addition, MDS Pharma Services was recommended to Compendia as being a contract research organization that had first-hand experience with the growth conditions used in the creation of the genetic data deposited at the National Cancer Institute.

"Dan Rhodes of Compendia impressed us with a presentation of the process, deliverables and potential for our clients of the Oncomine service," says Peter Pattison, vice president and general manager of pharmacology/DMPK for MDS Pharma Services. "We saw that the added value of being able to download the data generated by our reproducible cellular service directly to a bioinformatic system had the potential for a turnkey service that wastes no time in delivering relevant results to speed drug development."

The companies will continue to work to broaden the cell line panel and deepen the genomic characterization of the panel for better and better biological understanding of drug sensitivity, they report.

The technology in OncoPredictor assumes that the oncology therapies—small molecules or biologics, such as antibodies—are designed to have a cytotoxic effect or inhibit growth of specific cancer cells. The joint service between MDS and Compendia will, therefore, help in identifying therapies that can target specific sensitivities within the cancer cells, while leaving normal cells unaffected.

However, some oncology therapies work through different mechanisms, which are not designed to have a cytotoxic or anti-proliferative effect, such as therapies targeting the angiogenesis mechanism that seek to starve tumor cells rather than kill them directly. As such, research into those therapies would not likely see much, if any, benefit from OncoPredictor. Other oncology therapies that would not see a benefit from this service would be vaccine therapies that aim to prevent infection from viruses which cause cancers.

"Based on our experience working with the top companies pursuing development of cancer treatments, we believe this integrated solution could revolutionize cancer genomics for drug development," Rhodes says. "MDS Pharma Services clearly provides unique experience and capabilities, and we do not believe we could have identified a better partner to co-develop this solution."

"Compendia Bioscience is a leader in the field of cancer genomics," MDS Pharma Services President David Spaight adds. "Its Oncomine is a standard platform in the industry, and we believe our joint solution, OncoPredictor, will also become a cost-affordable industry standard in oncology drug development for both large and small companies."

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