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Sarah Cannon Inks Personalized Medicine Pact with AstraZeneca

NEW YORK (GenomeWeb News) – Sarah Cannon Research Institute and AstraZeneca said today that they will work together to advance drugs in AstraZeneca's pipeline with a personalized medicine strategy.

The collaborators said they will analyze tissue samples from cancer patients to gauge biomarkers linked to treatment response.

Through its molecular profiling program, SCRI will help identify patients for drug development trials with specific genomic characteristics that make them more likely to respond well or have a limited response to a therapy. Specifically, SCRI will provide leadership, oversight, and expertise in the development of the clinical trial programs, as well as contract research organization trial management for multiple early phase oncology compounds.

"Through this cutting-edge program design, we can rapidly and effectively implement clinical trials with greater access to a network of cancer patients for enrollment,” Andrew Hughes, VP of early clinical development for AstraZeneca, said in a statement.

This latest personalized medicine collaboration between SCRI and AstraZeneca is an expansion of their 2010 cancer drug development partnership. AstraZeneca is among the initial participants in SCRI's molecular profiling program, which is part of the institute's broader personalized medicine effort in the US and in the UK.

SCRI has access to thousands of patients with various tumor types and a tissue banking protocol in place to enable biomarker discovery and test validation, and to ensure that the molecular profiles of patients are considered in clinical trials.

Through partnerships with a number of labs, SCRI has access to genomic profiling tools and technologies, including a Phase I next-generation sequencing panel that gauges 1,000 hotspot mutations in 35 cancer related genes.

In the US, SCRI is working with the CLIA-certified and CAP-accredited lab services firm PathGroup. In the UK, the institute has partnered with University College London - Advanced Diagnostics to provide clinical services and develop novel profiling technologies. Under the partnership with UCL, SCRI has developed a targeted NGS panel that gauges 11 genes for several common cancer types. By year end, the institute hopes to be able to assess more than 30 genes.

AstraZeneca markets the drug Iressa in the UK as a treatment for non-small cell lung cancer patients with EGFR mutations. The company is also developing the ovarian cancer treatment olaparib with a personalized medicine strategy.