Berg has expanded its alliance with the U.S. Department of Defense (DOD) to cover research into breast cancer. The biotech will apply its technology platform to serum and tissue samples covering several breast cancer subtypes in an attempt to find molecular signatures that aid understanding of the disease.
Boston, MA-based Berg is working with DOD’s partners on the Clinical Breast Cancer Project (CBCP) on the program. By working with organizations including Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, the Windber Research Institute and the Henry Jackson Foundation for the Advancement of Military Medicine, DOD’s CBCP has collected tissues and other biospecimens from more than 7,000 breast cancer patients. The total number of specimens passed the 62,000 mark last year.
Berg has gained access to the resource through a cooperative research and development agreement. The plan is to turn its Interrogative Biology platform on the samples. This entails putting healthy and diseased samples through a high-throughput mass spectrometer and analyzing the biological activity. Berg also looks at the genome and other ‘omes to generate a trove of data on each sample. And, by using its analytics platform, thinks it can identify biomarkers of disease.
In recent years, Berg, which was co-founded by real estate billionaire Carl Berg, has made big claims about the ability of its approach to slash the time and money needed to develop drugs. The jury is still out on the question of whether Berg can come close to living up to the self-generated hype. Lead candidate BMP31510 is now in a Phase II pancreatic cancer trial. Berg has also moved a second program into the clinic, but the flow of candidates is currently more of a trickle than a torrent.