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GNS Analyzing NCI-60 Panel for PGx Applications

By a GenomeWeb staff reporter

NEW YORK (GenomeWeb News) – Healthcare IT firm GNS Healthcare this week announced a deal to use its REFS platform to analyze the National Cancer Institute's NCI-60 cancer cell line panel for pharmacogenomic purposes.

The deal, a subcontract with SAIC-Frederick, supports that firm's prime contract with NCI.

Under the terms of the subcontract, GNS, based in Cambridge, Mass., will use it REFS platform, comprised of integrated machine learning algorithms and software, to assess NCI data on several "well-known" therapeutics, including doxorubicin X2, Velcade (bortezimib), paclitaxel, Sprycel (dasatinib), Sutent (sunitinib), and rapamycin.

The REFS platform will be used to build computer models "in a hypothesis-free, unbiased manner that will be simulated to identify key genetic and molecular mechanisms of drug efficacy and resistance in cancer," GNS said in a statement.

The goal is to identify biomarkers and biological mechanisms that may lead to a better pairing of patients with drugs, as well as new oncotherapies, it added.

Financial and other terms of the deal were not disclosed.

The NCI-60 panel was developed in the 1980s as an in vitro resource to replace transplantable animal tumors to screen for anti-cancer agents. Since then, it has become one of the most extensively characterized cell line panels in broad laboratory use, GNS said.

In the first phase of its project for SAIC-Frederick, GNS will use transcriptional profiling data collected by NCI from the NCI-60 panel, and then use the REFS system to reverse-engineer network models from the data "that connect drug doses to transcriptional networks to endpoints," the company said.

After this first phase of the project, GNS will build versions of the computer models that may be made broadly available to cancer researchers for their own research.

"GNS is excited to be undertaking this radically new approach to unraveling mechanisms of cancer drugs that is complementary to the expert-driven but biased approaches that have been the standard in cancer research for decades," Iya Khalil, executive vice president and co-founder of GNS, said in a statement.