Foundation Medicine Teams With Celgene in Quest to Develop Targeted Cancer Treatments

5/17/11Follow @arleneweintraub

Boston-based Foundation Medicine has only been around for about two years, but it’s already making friends in big places. Today the company—which is developing advanced cancer diagnostics—announced a collaboration with Celgene (NASDAQ: CELG), based in Summit, NJ. Celgene plans to use Foundation Medicine’s genomics testing technology in trials of cancer drugs, in the hopes of identifying patients who are most likely to respond well to the medicines. The deal comes just four months after Foundation Medicine announced a collaboration with Novartis (NYSE: NVS) to optimize a genome panel for use in cancer research.

The financial details of the Celgene and Novartis deals were not announced, but the big-name backing is vital to Foundation, says Michael Pellini, a diagnostics-industry veteran who joined the startup as CEO on May 12. “These are two fantastic partners to have at this stage, because they bring tremendous insight into cancer biology and drug development,” Pellini says. “They will help us refine our tests.”

Foundation Medicine is built around the increasingly popular idea that cancer treatments should be tailored to individual patients. Foundation’s technology, which it’s currently marketing to pharmaceutical companies, uses high-throughput DNA sequencing to analyze tumors for alterations in more than 200 cancer-related genes. Pellini expects that number to reach 300 “in the coming months.”

Even before the Celgene and Novartis deals, Foundation Medicine’s pedigree had helped it win over … Next Page »

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