The deal – terms of which were not disclosed – will see Blackfield use its computational capabilities to validate preclinical cancer models being used by AstraZeneca to develop candidate cancer treatments as company Scientific director Roman Thomas explained.
“By applying our unique background in genomics, cancer medicine, and computational biology, Blackfield mines genomic information to support our clients in developing targeted cancer therapies.”
The agreement is the fourth privately-owned Blackfield has signed this year behind deals with Janssen Pharmaceuticals, Merck KGaA and Boehringer Ingelheim and – according to Thomas – is testament to the firm’s capabilities.
“We are delighted that Blackfield's position as a preferred scientific partner for global pharma companies has been confirmed this quickly. It demonstrates that our science-driven partnering approach that leverages genome analysis and oncology experience to offer expertise from one source is of highest value to the pharmaceutical industry."
The agreement also further underlines the partnering strategy that AstraZeneca has adopted to refill its product pipeline in light of patent losses.
In recent weeks the drugmaker has teamed up with the Sarah Cannon Research Institute (SCRI) – which describes itself as a contract research organisation (CRO) like institute - in a collaboration also focused on cancer drugs.
Blackfield is also the second IT firm that AstraZeneca has partnered with in as many months. On June 11 the Anglo-Swedish drugmaker called in ePharmaSolutions to provide computational services for three neuroscience studies.
Both deals follow just a few months after AstraZeneca announced plans to relocate some activities at its R&D laboratory in Alderly Park in Cheshire, UK - where its bioinformatics unit was previously based - to a new facility in Cambridge or overseas.