November 12, 2008
Ensemble Discovery Corp. And Roche Initiate Product Development Program to Advance New Diagnostic Technology to Optimize Cancer Therapy
Ensemble Discovery Corp today announced the extension of its collaboration with Roche to apply its proprietary diagnostic technology to personalized cancer therapy. The collaboration will deploy Ensemble Discovery's proprietary diagnostic assays (based upon DNA-Programmed Chemistry(TM)) in human clinical studies to analyze combinations of Epidermal Growth Factor Receptors (EGFR) present in cancer tissues. This family of receptors is one of the most actively targeted in modern oncology therapy. The goal of the project is to develop product prototypes that detect EGFR receptor dimers (protein complexes made up of two identical molecules) in human cancer tissue samples and ultimately to use those products to improve the management of cancer patients and their therapy.
The potential clinical benefit of the test is to select cancer patients who are most likely to respond to a particular therapy targeted against a member of the EGFR family. Several such therapies are marketed today by Roche and other pharmaceutical companies. The particular combinations of EGFR dimers present in the cancer are believed to be a significant factor in determining the efficacy of drugs in treating the cancer. The Ensemble test will correlate the EGFR family dimer pattern with the efficacy of particular anti-cancer drugs. This may result in a more personalized approach to treatment allowing for the selection of the best therapy for patients or development of new targeted drug combinations.
The EGFR family is one of the most widely attacked cancer targets. There are six drugs against this family on the market and several more in clinical trials. However, in each case, the drugs show activity in a subset of patients for whom they are currently indicated. The mechanism of this partial efficacy is not well understood and needs further investigation with the aim of optimizing clinical study programs and future treatments.
"We are very pleased to extend and expand our collaboration with Roche" said Michael D. Taylor, Ph.D., CEO of Ensemble Discovery. "Roche is one of the world's leading cancer companies with a strong commitment to personalized healthcare which strives to fit the right treatment to the patient."
"Our previous collaboration demonstrated the ability of our assays to detect receptor dimers in human pathological samples. We are now going to work with Roche to extend the panel of assays against various members of the EGFR family and advance those assays into clinical studies," said David J. Livingston, Ph.D., Senior Vice President, and head of the biodetection program at Ensemble Discovery. "Ensemble is committed to the deployment of our EGFR assays for optimal use of anti-EGFR therapy, and we view a collaboration with Roche's pharmaceutical and diagnostic groups as a unique route to achieve that goal."
About the EGFR Family
The Epidermal Growth Factory Receptor (EGFR) family is one of the best characterized families of cancer-associated proteins. Members of the family are known to be involved in the etiology of breast, lung and colon cancer and their pathologic and biochemical mechanisms have been widely studied since their discovery and isolation in the 1980s.
About Ensemble Discovery Corporation
Based in Cambridge, MA, Ensemble Discovery Corporation is deploying its proprietary chemistry platforms to develop novel classes of therapeutics and diagnostics. In its drug discovery programs, Ensemble is focused on a novel class of synthetic macrocycles ("Ensemblins(TM)") and its lead programs target the TNF Receptor and other members of the TNF receptor superfamily. In its diagnostic programs, Ensemble uses DPC to control the generation of detection signals in response to the presence of specific molecular events underlying human diseases. DPC-based assays are particularly adept at the detection of dimeric molecules such as growth factor receptors on cell surfaces. For more information, please visit www.ensemblediscovery.com.