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Translating a pilot into a full collaboration
April 2012
by Jeffrey Bouley  |  Email the author

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SAN DIEGO—Molecular Response and Redwood City, Calif.-based OncoMed Pharmaceuticals Inc. already had what they considered a successful pilot program to develop unique patient-derived tumor xenografts (PDX) through the use of Molecular Response's proprietary cell bank of primary tumor cells—but late February saw the two companies announce a new agreement to expand this relationship.
 
Under the terms of the agreement, the collaboration will deliver molecularly characterized PDX models for multiple cancer indications, with full utilization of Molecular Response's highly optimized pre-screening and characterization methodologies. Financial terms of the collaboration were not disclosed.  
 
According to OncoMed, the relationship began near the end of 2010, when Molecular Response approached OncoMed to discuss their potential capabilities for identifying predictive markers of therapeutic response. In mid-2011, the companies decided to perform a pilot study in which OncoMed successfully developed patient-derived tumor xenografts from a subset of Molecular Response's bank of cryopreserved tumor cells.
 
Communicating via email, Dr. Ann Kapoun, OncoMed's vice president of translational medicine, tells ddn that "OncoMed's expertise in developing and characterizing PDX models coupled with Molecular Response's vast collection of viable patient-derived cryopreserved human tumor cells will allow the collaboration to be highly productive for both companies."  
 
"The alliance provides an opportunity for OncoMed to expand their already extensive bank of proprietary xenograft models derived from freshly resected human cancers based on the molecular profile of the tumors as well as complement OncoMed's existing biomarker and patient selection efforts," Kapoun continues. "This is important for OncoMed because a strategic focus for the company is to develop therapeutic antibodies and to target their clinical use in the subsets of patients most likely to benefit. The priority is to develop focused clinical plans, which include patient selection strategies at early stages of clinical testing."  
 
As OncoMed CEO Paul Hastings noted in the news release about the deal, "The expansion of our tumor bank in this selective manner will enhance our efforts of developing predictive biomarkers alongside the development of our anti-cancer stem cell therapeutics."  
 
"Development of characterized PDX models is a natural addition to our core competencies in working with patient-derived primary tumor cells. OncoMed is a leader in cancer stem cell therapeutics and a most discerning partner in evaluation of new PDX models," said Cyrus K. Mirsaidi, CEO of Molecular Response, in the news release. "The expanded collaboration with OncoMed is proof of our success and continued commitment to enable further evaluation of cancer therapeutics in better characterized models with use of our high-content, cell-based platforms and exclusive patient-derived primary tumor cell bank."
 
OncoMed is a privately held clinical development-stage biopharmaceutical company developing therapeutics that target the biologic pathways critical to tumor-initiating cells, also known as cancer stem cells. OncoMed has advanced three anti-cancer stem cell monoclonal antibodies into the clinic: OMP-21M18, OMP-59R5 and OMP-18R5. All three of them target key cancer stem cell signaling pathways, including Notch and Wnt. In addition, OncoMed's pipeline includes several novel preclinical product candidates targeting multiple validated cancer stem cell pathways. OncoMed has formed strategic alliances with Bayer HealthCare Pharmaceuticals and GlaxoSmithKline.
 
Molecular Response is a privately held molecular diagnostic services company that calls itself "a leader in the identification of target populations for high-value therapeutics," doing so through "intelligently designed, clinically validated companion diagnostics."  
 
The company's stated goal is to reduce risk and cost of therapeutic drug development for its partners by translating clinically relevant molecular response marker data into high-value knowledge while fully integrated into existing pharmaceutical development processes and programs, all to allow for reduced risk and costs in drug development and allow for the most informed decisions with best chance of success for advancing therapeutic programs.
 
Code: E041214

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