Scottsdale, AZ and Cambridge, UK (Scicasts) - TGen Drug Development (TD2) and Horizon Discovery have announced a strategic alliance that the companies believe will significantly advance personalized medicine. According to the announcement. the partnership will create a beginning-to-end solution for pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies to more rationally design and tailor their drugs to specific patient populations based on the unique genetic variations that define a given disease.
TD2 will use Horizon's panel of more than 200 genetically-defined human isogenic cell-lines — designed to accurately mirror cancer patient genetics — in its comprehensive pre-clinical service as a prelude to performing selected in-house clinical trials. This will provide clients with a fully integrated drug discovery service that will accelerate the isolation and optimization of appropriately targeted therapeutic agents and attain their rapid market approval. And it will save time and money in the development of more effective cancer treatments.
"The future of oncology drug development will require us to predict which patients will respond to what drug," said Dr. Stephen Gately, TD2's President and Chief Scientific Officer, referring to the goal of personalized medicine — treating patients with drugs tailor-made for their specific diseases.
"This partnership is the engine that will actually make this work and allow for the design of shorter and less-costly clinical trials that enroll the patients most likely to respond to a given drug," Gately said.
This agreement between TD2 and Horizon builds on another agreement announced Feb. 2 between Horizon and TD2's parent organization, the Translational Genomics Research Institute (TGen), to develop new human disease models for TGen's cancer research.
"Working with TD2 will enable us to broaden the impact of our GENESIS and X-MAN technologies in the quest for therapies that target the genetic causes of cancer in each patient's tumor," said Dr. Chris Torrance, CEO of Horizon, based in Cambridge, U.K.
Horizon's new GENESIS technology allow researchers, for the first time, to routinely and precisely alter any specific gene or genomic location in a human cell. This would allow, for example, the ability to take a non-cancerous cell and mutate it to create a cancerous cell that matches the mutation in a given patient's tumour. Researchers then can test potential treatments on the cell pairs to define which specific mutation status confers the maximal drug activity. These engineered lines and their matched controls can be rapidly deployed in target validation, drug screening, patient profiling, drug resistance and drug re-profiling.
TD2 also has the expertise and capabilities to perform de novo high-throughput synthetic lethal screens that targets the nearly 3-billion-letter human genome, the DNA blueprint that makes us who we are. This will enable users to define the next generation of patient-relevant drug targets. Along with TD2's world-class preclinical, clinical and regulatory affairs expertise, it will ensure that client's targets and drugs will move quickly from the laboratory bench to the patient bedside.
TD2 will provide high-throughput screening capabilities, study execution and business marketing, and may incorporate new service offerings that emerge from its affiliated organizations, TGen and the Van Andel Research Institute.
Horizon through its subsidiary Horizon Discovery Services will support the pre-clinical offerings with bespoke 2D and 3D assay formats that closely mimic the in vivo phenotype being driven by primary and secondary genetic cancer mutations. A key part of identifying the correct phenotype is the ability to replicate the context of the mutation in the actual tumour microenvironment.