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MDx/CDx Focus: Fred Hutch Awarded $4M Research Grant; ResearchDx's New Calif. Facility


Fred Hutch Team Gets $4 Million to Research Genomically Targeted Cancer Drugs

The National Cancer Institute has awarded a research team at Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center $4 million to develop genomically targeted cancer therapeutics.

The research team will be led by scientists Christopher Kemp and Carla Grandori. The team will employ high-throughput screening technologies and RNA interference to test "thousands of genes" in patients' tumor cells, Fred Hutchinson said in a statement.

By using high-throughput technologies the researchers are hoping to speed up discovery of new drug targets. "While there a dozen or two targeted therapies, there are more than 20,000 genes, potentially many of them representing future targeted therapies," Grandori said in a statement. "We have pioneered a method to sort through these thousands of genes efficiently and rapidly in patient-derived cancer cells."

Initially, researchers will focus on aggressive subtypes of head and neck squamous cell carcinoma, pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma, and triple-negative breast cancer. They plan eventually to expand screening patients with ovarian and childhood cancer types.

The research team has so far had success in the preclinical setting, where two tumor types for which no treatments exist responded favorably to new therapeutic agents. Kemp and Grandori plan to further study these early findings in clinical trials next year.

The other investigators Kemp and Gandori will work with on the project include: Eduardo Mendez, assistant professor of otolaryngology/head and neck surgery at University of Washington; Vijayakrishna Gadi, assistant professor of medicine at UW; and Adam Margolin, director of computational biology at Sage Bionetworks.

ResearchDx Opens New California Facility

ResearchDx, a California-based contract diagnostics organization, announced that it has purchased a new facility in Irvine, where the company is now located.

The 30,000 square foot facility will enable the company to expand its in vitro diagnostics services to pharma, biotech, and diagnostics partners. The added space will allow the company to take on more projects, ResearchDx said.

By providing services from assay conceptualization to market launch of tests, ResearchDx aims to help clients advance their IVDs and companion tests to the market with regulatory approval "faster and more effectively than a company's own internal resources or other partnerships may allow."