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Cancer Centers, Analytics, Pharma Plan Precision Medicine

Genetic testing illustration

(National Institute of General Medical Sciences, NIH)

7 April 2016. A cancer care center network, with pharmaceutical and informatics companies, plan to apply precision medicine techniques to increase the pool of patients for clinical trials of new cancer therapies. The coalition includes cancer centers in the Orien network — short for Oncology Research Information Exchange Network — with bioinformatics company M2Gen, and the pharmaceutical company Celgene that aims to generate many more cancer patients screened for clinical trials.

The Orien network includes founding members Moffitt Cancer Center in Tampa and Ohio State University’s James Cancer Center, along with 9 other cancer hospitals in the U.S. As reported in Science & Enterprise in May 2014, the Orien project collects de-identified clinical data from cancer patients, combined with samples of tumors and bodily fluids not needed for care. Data from these patients are stored and analyzed according to Moffitt Cancer Center’s protocols.

M2Gen, a spin-off company from Moffitt Cancer Center, will manage the high volume of genetic and clinical data, which will be made available as a subscription service, known as Orien Avatar, to pharmaceutical companies. The company identifies patients in the Orien databases using its algorithms for matching patients’ clinical and molecular profiles against a trial’s clinical and molecular eligibility criteria.

In Orien Avatar, patients’ data will be matched at a molecular level to cancer treatments in clinical development. The program anticipates focusing on patients with advanced primary or metastatic cancer, those with limited treatment options, and those whose condition is likely to worsen over time.

Patients are expected to benefit from Orien Avatar, by gaining greater access to more clinical trials and experimental treatments. Participating cancer centers anticipate sharing their findings and expanding clinical trial options for their patients.

William Dalton, founder and CEO of M2Gen says in a company statement, “The Orien Avatar program will use an in-silico analysis approach to better design clinical trials and match patients to promising clinical trials to achieve their accrual targets so that new and improved treatments can be brought to market more rapidly, and help millions of patients worldwide.”

The first pharma company to take subscribe to Orien Avatar is Celgene in Summit, New Jersey, where a large part of Celgene’s pipeline is devoted to treatments for solid tumor and blood-related cancers. “This wealth of clinical and molecular data,” says Michael Pehl, president of hematology and oncology at Celgene, “will potentially lead to a better understanding of molecular properties that are involved in a patient’s disease and what treatment designs might be most successful in battling their cancer.”

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