Crown says that the addition of Molecular’s models will now give it the world’s largest and most comprehensive collection of patient derived models.
The viable tumors come from Molecular Response’s bank of over 140,000 unique cryopreserved US tumor samples, and Crown will have the ability to further select and develop models from the collection as needed. The bank represents over 76 clinical diagnoses and the majority of tissues come from patients who have received prior treatment, many from metastatic tumors. Each tumor is supported by a companion molecular biobank and curated patient and sample data.
Cyrus Mirsaidi, CEO of Molecular Response, explained to Outsourcing-Pharma.com that Crown’s acquisition of the 8,000 tumor samples will add to the company’s Chinese patient models, as well as the EU models that they acquired when Crown bought Precos.
Mirsaidi said the samples are not from drug-naïve patients, but from the types of patients you’ll see in a clinic. “This is all about scale,” he added, noting that in order “to see efficacy of a drug before going into the clinic you need large numbers of PDX in each type of cancer…need to have enough samples of different types of patients.”
“We want to have them access enough of the tumor bank to become a dominant player in the space,” Mirsaidi said, adding that Molecular, which was not acquired outright by Crown, is still in discussions with larger pharma companies for ways to work with the rest of the bank.
The purchase is another sign of consolidation in the preclinical industry. Mirsaidi told us that before this business unit was sold, Crown was its “number one competitor,” thoughhe sounded confident in Crown’s mission, adding that “we sold our business unit to the best partner…others have more muscle and size but Crown has been in this space a long time so they understand how it can be used.”
Crown said the Molecular Response facilities and personnel in San Diego will be designated as a global center of excellence for Translational Oncology, and will complement Crown’s existing operations in Beijing, Shanghai, Kannapolis, North Carolina and the UK.
This acquisition follows several recent moves by Crown, including the opening of a new facility in Kannapolis in October 2014 and a decision to double capacity at its UK facility. Crown’s models reflect the patient situation for various areas of cancer progression, including pre-cancerous lesions, primary tumours and metastasis, as well as being ethnically diverse and representing both treated and drug naïve patients.
“This acquisition represents the next step in Crown’s strategy to be the dominant provider of translational oncology drug discovery services,” said Jean-Pierre Wery, President of Crown. “Our ability to run hundreds of models in parallel enables our clients to complete avatar trials in months rather than years to determine the genetic signature of responders versus non-responders.”