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Broad Institute and Bayer Join Forces to Develop Novel Treatment Options in Cancer Therapy

The Broad Institute has entered into a strategic alliance with Bayer Healthcare in the area of oncogenomics and drug discovery. The goal of this collaboration is to jointly discover and develop therapeutic agents that selectively target cancer genome alterations over a period of five years.

“We look forward to working together with our Bayer colleagues to translate scientific discoveries into novel cancer therapeutics,” said Professor Eric Lander, President and Director of Broad Institute. “The Broad’s deep expertise and knowledge in cancer genomics, chemical biology and drug discovery perfectly complement Bayer’s decades of experience in pharmaceutical development. We are thrilled to be working with Bayer in such a visionary collaboration.”

Oncogenomics is a promising field of oncology research that identifies and characterizes genes which are associated with cancer. Cancer is caused by the accumulation of DNA mutations which lead to uncontrolled cell proliferation and tumor formation. The goal of oncogenomics research is to identify new genes which, when mutated, stimulate or lose the ability to suppress tumor cell growth. These genes may provide new insights into cancer diagnosis, prediction of clinical outcomes, and new targets for cancer therapies. Targeting individual patient tumor mutations will allow for the development of more personalized cancer treatments.

“We are excited to collaborate with such a prestigious research institute as the Broad Institute which brings together researchers from Harvard, MIT, and the Harvard hospitals,” said Professor Andreas Busch, Head of Global Drug Discovery and Member of the Executive Committee of Bayer HealthCare. “The Broad Institute’s scientists have created impressive systematic catalogues of mutational changes across different types of tumors, laying a foundation for the development of new cancer therapies and diagnostics. The alliance is another significant step underlining our engagement in the field of oncology and personalized medicine.”

As part of the collaboration, the Broad Institute will share its oncogenomic expertise. Both parties will explore their compound libraries and use their screening platforms as well as medicinal chemistry expertise to benefit joint projects. The collaboration will be based on joint decision-making and the rights to the research findings are shared equally between the partners. Joint research and joint steering committees will be established for the initiation and selection of projects, and as governance structures. Bayer will have an option for an exclusive license for therapeutic agents at preclinical development stage. Financial terms of the agreement were not disclosed.

Source: Broad Institute

Organovo and OHSU Knight Cancer Institute Announce Collaboration in Cancer Research

Organovo Holdings, Inc. (OTCQX: ONVO) (“Organovo”), a creator and manufacturer of functional, three-dimensional human tissues for medical research and therapeutic applications, and the Knight Cancer Institute at Oregon Health & Science University (OHSU), a national leader in translational oncology research, have formed a collaboration to develop more clinically predictive in vitro three dimensional cancer models which will ultimately advance discovery of novel cancer therapeutics. New biological models that more accurately replicate human cancer and malignant disease are desperately needed to enhance our understanding of how cancer develops and migrates and to deliver better oncology therapies for patients.

“The OHSU Knight Cancer Institute is consistently on the leading edge of cancer research, delivering true therapeutic breakthroughs like Gleevec,” said Keith Murphy, chairman and chief executive officer at Organovo. “The knowledge and experience of the team at OHSU will be critical as we work together to create advanced models of cancer and metastasis that more reliably predict the safety and effectiveness of new therapeutics.”

Today, animal models and cancer cell lines are used to identify and test potential drug candidates, but these tools have known limitations in their ability to predict clinical outcomes. More accurate and representative human disease models have the potential to improve drug discovery and development for a number of diseases, including cancer. By applying breakthrough bioprinting technology, Organovo develops three-dimensional, architecturally correct, human disease models to improve the understanding of drug toxicity and efficacy earlier in the drug development process, enabling safer, more effective therapies.

“A major challenge in oncology research today is that animal models cannot accurately represent human physiology, and cell lines do not provide information on how cells act in a three-dimensional, native architecture,” said renowned cancer researcher Joe W. Gray, Ph.D., director of the OHSU Center for Spatial Systems Biomedicine (OCSSB), Gordon Moore chair of Biomedical Engineering in the OHSU School of Medicine and associate director for translational research for the OHSU Knight Cancer Institute. “Using Organovo’s bioprinting technologies, we plan to create new models to understand cancer disease mechanisms and metastatic progression, which can be used to discover and test new targeted therapies.”

OHSU Knight Cancer Institute Director Brian Druker, M.D., added, “Better research models lead to a deeper understanding of disease mechanisms and more accurate information in the preclinical drug discovery and development process.

We believe new technologies, like bioprinting, are important for producing more relevant models of cancer and metastasis to ultimately support the discovery of new therapeutics.”

Source: Oregon Health & Science University

Verastem Enters Biomarker Agreement with LabCorp for Cancer Stem Cell Agent Companion Diagnostic

Verastem, Inc., (NASDAQ: VSTM) a clinical-stage biopharmaceutical company focused on discovering and developing drugs to treat cancer by the targeted killing of cancer stem cells, entered an agreement with Laboratory Corporation of America® Holdings (LabCorp®) (NYSE: LH) to validate biomarkers for its lead focal adhesion kinase (FAK) inhibitor VS-6063 in the development of an applicable companion diagnostic.

Agendia Announces Discovery of a Gene Signature that Predicts Response to a Broad Range of Cancer Drugs

The gene signature, discovered in collaboration with scientists from the Netherlands Cancer Institute, identifies a process that resembles the process of “Epithelial to Mesenchymal Transition” (EMT) as a major determinant of response to both targeted cancer therapeutics and chemotherapeutics in a broad range of cancer types.

“We need to understand the mechanisms of drug resistance if we want to prevent resistance from occurring. Moreover, we have shown that blocking the EMT process with selective drugs restores sensitivity to the original drug, which suggests a way to treat patients that have undergone this type of drug resistance,” says Rene Bernards, senior author of the study and Chief Scientific Officer at Agendia. The company is in discussions with several pharmaceutical companies to collaborate on the use of this gene signature in clinical studies.

“Our ongoing collaboration with the Netherlands Cancer Institute contributes significantly to Agendia’s high-value offering of pharma services and new diagnostic tests,” said David Macdonald, CEO of Agendia. “Agendia is committed to improving the effectiveness of cancer therapies by providing valuable biomarker tools to pharmaceutical companies and physicians.”

Study: MED12 Controls the Response to Multiple Cancer Drugs through Regulation of TGF-β Receptor Signaling

Source: PR Newswire

Mesothelioma Drug Slows Disease Progression in Patients with an Inactive NF2 Gene

Preliminary findings from the first trial of a new drug for patients with mesothelioma show that it has some success in preventing the spread of the deadly disease in patients lacking an active tumour suppressor gene called NF2. The study is presented at the 24th EORTC-NCI-AACR [1] Symposium on Molecular Targets and Cancer Therapeutics in Dublin, Ireland, today (Friday) [2].