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Covance Moves Further into Personalized Medicine with Collaboration

By Zachary Brennan , 27-Feb-2013

CRO Covance is teaming up with M2Gen’s cancer-focused database to increase its ability to match more patients in oncology trials based on their tumour profiles. 

The agreement, announced Tuesday, will allow Covance’s genomics lab in Seattle to be the preferred provider for M2Gen, a subsidiary of the Moffitt Cancer Center in Florida, for DNA/RNA sequencing, gene expression analysis and genotyping services.

M2Gen’s cancer data warehouse and related specimen biorepository links clinical, molecular and specimen data from more than 95,000 patients from Moffitt and a consortium of 17 hospitals throughout the US.  No other databases “come close in terms of size” to M2Gen’s, Frank Makosiej, executive director of operational strategy and planning in clinical development services at Covance, told Outsourcing-Pharma.com.

M2Gen has been working on its database over the past five years and of the 95,000 patients in it, more than 33,500 tumor specimens have been collected and generated, and more than 20,000 molecular data files have been generated by studying these specimens, Makosiej said.

He characterized the collaboration as a “symbiotic relationship,” where both sides will use and help to grow the database.  M2Gen is adding more hospital centres to the base, with 400 patients coming onto it on a weekly basis, and Covance said it will continue to add more patients, Makosiej noted.

The database will allow Covance to identify more biomarkers and patients more quickly for trials. This will make a difference in how Covance's large pharma partners can work with the CRO to develop drugs.

Larger Impact

The greater potential in screening cancer patients and collecting all of the clinical data as they progress, as well as the variety of drugs that they’re exposed to, can offer a lot of opportunities, Makosiej explained.

Oncology is an area where one has an ability to impact patient lives,” especially when a large population of cancer patients can be whittled down by a biomarker to only 5% of a population, he noted.

But as far as creating an even more massive, global database of patients, tumour profiles and biomarker analyses that builds on M2Gen’s capacity, Makosiej seemed less optimistic. “Healthcare doesn’t evolve that quickly,” he said, noting that the M2Gen database is much more sophisticated and detailed than other similar databases.

WCCT Recruitment Tool

In a similar development announced Tuesday, CRO WCCT Global launched its recruitment management tool. The WCCT Global RMT consists of an algorithm combining multiple web technologies to enable recruiters to target specific patients for a trial. The tool attempts to use less resources and shorten overall recruitment times.

We use a series of established technologies to drastically improve recruitment marketing tactics for clinical studies to specific population based on each clinical study we are conducting” through “a series of very targeted advertisements,” Matt Miller, marketing manager of WCCT, told Outsourcing-Pharma.com. 

Lee Barsky, VP of project management, added that the company is "now able to precisely target the required resources to recruit specific patient populations anywhere in the US in record time.” 

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