AstraZeneca picks Blackfield for cancer drug development

German genomics contractor Blackfield locked up a deal with AstraZeneca ($AZN), agreeing to provide its computational biology technology to help the drugmaker validate an in-development cancer therapy.

Under the deal, Blackfield will apply its genomics know-how to validate preclinical models for one of AZ's pipeline cancer drugs, optimizing the development process to give the success-starved pharma its best chance of success.

The agreement is Blackfield's fourth Big Pharma partnership since starting up about a year ago, following pairings with Johnson & Johnson's ($JNJ) Janssen, Merck KGaA and Boehringer Ingelheim.

"We are delighted that Blackfield's position as a preferred scientific partner for global pharma companies has been confirmed this quickly," Senior Director Roman Thomas said in a statement. "It demonstrates that our science-driven partnering approach that leverages genome analysis and oncology experience to offer expertise from one source is of highest value to the pharmaceutical industry."

For AstraZeneca, a drugmaker beset by challenges in its pipeline, the Blackfield deal is part of an uptick in outsourcing as the company works to advance therapies across a bevy of treatment areas.

Earlier this month, AZ signed on with CRO Sarah Cannon Research Institute to assist with its personalized medicine oncology program, and the company is recruiting contractors across the industry's spectrum for its nearly all-outsourced central nervous system program, most recently signing up with ePharmaSolutions to create a network for all its partners.

- read Blackfield's statement

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