AstraZeneca commits $18M to clinical trial bioinformatics collaboration

AstraZeneca Executive Vice President Mene Pangalos

AstraZeneca ($AZN) is pumping £11.5 million ($17.7 million) into a push to develop bioinformatics infrastructure to match its oncology ambitions. The money will finance a 5-year collaboration with the University of Manchester, during which AstraZeneca hopes to establish a bioinformatics system to match cancer patients to targeted therapies.

Such therapies are vital to the future of AstraZeneca. In fending off the bid from Pfizer ($PFE) last year, AstraZeneca made blockbuster predictions for its pipeline of cancer drugs. The challenge over the next few years and beyond will be to come good on these sales forecasts. Bioinformatics is one small piece of how AstraZeneca is trying to meet that challenge. If the collaboration goes as planned, AstraZeneca will gain a system that can pull in data from a range of sources and pump out tips for how to treat a particular patient.

AstraZeneca sees the system helping it to extract more insights from trial data. "This collaboration is exciting because it will eventually allow us to incorporate important data from clinical trials into a format that can be reviewed in real time by healthcare professionals and matched with information about cancer medicines. We will be able to modify clinical trial programmes accordingly and support clinicians to offer more accurate, personalised and rapid decision making to patients about their treatment," AstraZeneca EVP Mene Pangalos said in a statement.

The collaborative projects envisaged by AstraZeneca include the creation of a bioinformatics system that takes safety, efficacy, biomarker and drug distribution data and uses it to create graphs that help clinicians make treatment decisions. AstraZeneca is also planning to train investigators on the specifics of pharmacokinetic and pharmacodynamic modeling. Manchester Cancer Research Centre's Centre for Cancer Biomarker Sciences is helping with the projects, while the involvement of The Christie NHS Foundation Trust means AstraZeneca has a real trial site in which to test its systems.

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