Under the Crown
Crown Bioscience of Santa Clara, CA, acquired the shares of U.K.-based Preclinical Oncology Services (PRECOS), a preclinical R&D service provider with a specific focus on oncology in 2013. PRECOS, formerly affiliated with the University of Nottingham, says it has unique clinically relevant models, which reflect the patient situation for each aspect of cancer progression encompassing precancerous lesions, primary tumors, and metastasis.
“The acquisition represents the next step in expanding the range of specialized services we offer pharmaceutical and biopharmaceutical customers worldwide,” said Jean-Pierre Wery, president of Crown Bioscience.
Lianhai Zhang, and colleagues working at Peking University and Crown BioSciences reported the identification of predictive biomarkers for responsiveness to the antibody cetuximab using “avatar mice” or “xenopatients”, mice with patient-derived tumor xenografts (PDXs) that mirror a patient’s histopathological profile. Large collections of the avatars reflect, they say, the diversity of tumor in patient populations.
The investigators had established a large collection of cancer PDXs by transplanting surgically removed tumor tissues from patients into immunocompromised BALB/c nude mice via subcutaneous inoculation, including many gastric cancer PDXs (GC-PDXs), to assess drug activities.
This study investigated the activity of cetuximab in 20 GC-PDX models. After therapeutic responders and nonresponders were identified following discovery of predictive biomarkers including genomic and gene expression analysis, sequencing of key oncogenes was carried out. And the expressions of candidate biomarkers were validated by quantitative PCR, immunohistochemistry, and fluorescence in-situ hybridization (FISH).
In this instance the use of an in vivo model revealed a series of predictive biomarkers that could eventually, the investigators concluded, prove useful in identifying human GC patients responsive to the antibody cetuximab.
And in a further commitment to developing in vivo drug test systems, Crown said they had an exclusive two-year collaboration agreement with Horizon Discovery, a provider of research tools to support the development of personalized medicines. The relationship continues a previous collaboration between the two companies.
Horizon will share its X-MAN (X-Gene Mutant and Normal) cell lines with Crown to provide in vivo animal services to third parties. Crown will use Horizon’s cell lines to provide animal model development, study execution, and business marketing to its clients. “The suite of in vivo models developed with Crown will ideally complement our extensive range of in vitro drug discovery tools and services. We are confident this partnership will yield some exciting results,” commented Darrin Disley, CEO of Horizon Discovery.