Pfizer taps Adaptive to add NGS, bioinformatics skills to immuno-oncology drive

Pfizer VP Chris Boshoff

Pfizer ($PFE) has enlisted Adaptive Biotechnologies to support the advance of its immuno-oncology pipeline. Adaptive will apply its next-generation sequencing (NGS) and bioinformatics capabilities to Pfizer's pipeline, an approach the partners think will help to identify patients who will benefit most from particular immuno-oncology treatment regimens.

The deal is an attempt by Pfizer to cut the time it takes to hustle its immuno-oncology programs to market, which, if successful, would give the Big Pharma an edge in a fiercely-competitive sector in which it is playing catch up. Adaptive's role in the strategy is based around its immunosequencing platform, a tool designed to quantitatively and reproducibly measure the composition of patents' immune cells. Pfizer sees the tool speeding the development of its immuno-oncology biomarker and drug development programs, notably by providing data to inform the patient selection process.

A lot is resting on Pfizer's ability to execute the strategy. "Pfizer is investing significantly in this space," Chris Boshoff, VP and head of early development, translational and immuno-oncology at Pfizer Oncology, said in a statement. "The collaboration with Adaptive Biotechnologies supports our strategy of accelerating the development of potentially innovative new combination treatments by allowing us to develop a differentiated and competitive understanding of the immune landscape in specific tumor types."

Adaptive convinced Pfizer it can provide this boost on the strength of its immunosequencing tool and associated analysis platform. The firm uses bias-controlled multiplex polymerase chain reaction (PCR) to identify T cell and B cell receptors. Data generated through this approach are then analyzed using a bioinformatics platform developed by Adaptive. The tool is designed to cut the time it takes to hone in on relevant immunosequencing data, a capability that could enable Pfizer to tell if a patient appears well suited to a treatment regimen faster than is currently possible.

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