Covance allies with M2Gen for personalized medicine, cancer trials

Covance ($CVD) is stepping up its personalized medicine services, teaming up with the biomarker-focused M2Gen to better identify ideal patients for oncology drug trials.

M2Gen, a subsidiary of the Moffitt Cancer Center, maintains a cancer-focused data warehouse with biomarker information on more than 95,000 cancer patients, and now Covance can tap that information and offer clients quick patient recruitment as targeted cancer drugs become more and more popular.

Under the deal, Covance will help sponsors conducting biomarker-driven oncology trials using M2Gen's data, and the CRO will become M2Gen's preferred partner for DNA/RNA sequencing, gene expression analysis and genotyping analysis services, the company said.

"M2Gen's database is unique in the industry, with clinical data captured and maintained over the cancer patient's lifetime," Covance CMO Ken Somberg said in a statement. "This alliance will help us partner with sponsors as the field of personalized medicine continues to evolve, and as we work toward a common goal of bringing new life-saving medicines to patients who need them."

As the sponsors behind many Phase III disasters can tell you, identifying the ideal patients for a trial can make or break a potential blockbuster, and Big Pharma is getting serious about personalized medicine, especially with in-development cancer drugs. Companion diagnostics is becoming an integral part of targeted drug development, whether drugmakers partner up with diagnostics firms, like Eli Lilly ($LLY) and Pfizer ($PFE) recently have, or go at it alone with big internal investments, like Roche ($RHHBY) with its multibillion-dollar Dx unit.

- read Covance's statement