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Novartis, Foundation Medicine to Partner on Genome Analysis

DNA strand (NSF)

(James. J. Caras, National Science Foundation)

The pharmaceutical company Novartis has agreed to use the genomic analysis services of Foundation Medicine in Cambridge, Massachusetts in Novartis’s clinical trials of cancer drugs. The agreement expands an 18-month pilot program between the two companies. Financial terms of the agreement were not disclosed.

Foundation Medicine conducts a detailed genomic analysis of tumors to help clinicians determine the best treatment strategy for each patient. The company says its test is designed to capture molecular information for all solid tumor types.

The test developed by Foundation Medicine uses DNA extracted from cancer biopsy tissue to examine a range of specifically targeted cancer-related genes for all potential somatic alterations — changes in the genome not passed on to offspring, which are characteristic of cancerous mutations. Its analytical tools include sequencing of cancer-related genes from formalin-fixed, paraffin-embedded tumor samples, which the company expects to use in the Novartis partnership.

Novartis plans to use molecular information from Foundation Medicine’s analytical platform in many of Novartis’ Phase 1 and 2 oncology clinical trials. The company says Foundation Medicine’s capabilities will help align clinical trial enrollment and outcome analysis with the genomic profile of individual patient tumors to refne the testing of new cancer treatments.

Foundation Medicine’s founders include scientists from the Broad Institute, Harvard Medical School, Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, and MIT. The company recently unveiled its first commercial product that generates a full genomic profile to enable matching of the patient to therapies addressing specific molecular changes in the tumor.

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