Quintiles helps form personalized medicine joint venture

Stepping into the realm of personalized medicine, Quintiles ($QTRN) has created Oxford Cancer Biomarkers, a company focusing on the discovery and development of new cancer biomarkers, and on creating predictive diagnostics for cancer drug R&D, using a biomarker platform called CancerNav.

The U.K.-based company, which will have offices in Oxford and Reading, is a joint venture between Quintiles, the University of Oxford, and CancerNav's creators, professors Nick La Thangue and David Kerr, both based at Oxford. Kerr will become Oxford Cancer Biomarkers' first chief medical officer. Quintiles has made a £3 million investment and will gain a 27.5% stake.

CancerNav is a proprietary DNA- and protein-based assay technology platform, and is licensed to the company through Oxford University's technology transfer arm, Isis Innovation. La Thangue explained: "Today's announcement provides early and strong endorsement of our proprietary biomarker platform, CancerNav, which can rapidly generate predictive biomarkers for cancer drugs. Quintiles is the ideal partner to leverage our clinical and biomarker expertise."

Biomarkers can improve the chances of drugs getting through clinical trials by selecting the patients most likely to respond, a useful trait in these times of escalating drug development costs and falling success rates, and also benefit the patient by allowing physicians to select those more likely to benefit or least likely to develop side effects. This spinoff brings the strength and kudos of Oxford University to Quintiles, as well as access to key experts in the field, and reflects Quintiles' 2010 confirmation of the importance of cancer biomarkers.

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