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

5/17/11Follow @arleneweintraub

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some important allies. Boston-based Third Rock Ventures—which was founded by veterans from Millennium Pharmaceuticals—incubated Foundation and led its $25 million series A in April 2010. The company’s founding academic advisors hail from the Broad Institute, the Dana Farber Cancer Institute, Harvard Medical School, and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. And former CombinatoRx CEO Alexis Borisy served as its founding chief executive.

The recruiting of Pellini was a coup for Foundation Medicine, as well. Pellini was formerly the president and chief operating officer of Clarient, a leading developer of cancer diagnostics that was acquired by General Electric (NYSE: GE) in 2010. His previous experience included stints at Safeguard Scientifics (NYSE: SFE) and Genomics Collaborative.

Pellini says he was attracted to the Foundation opportunity because he believed the startup was forward-thinking in its approach to diagnostics. The company’s technology is fluid—meaning it can be easily refined as the understanding of tumor biology evolves. “This test is not a static offering. As our knowledge changes, we will continue to refine it,” Pellini says. “What Foundation is doing is the next generation of cancer diagnostics. It’s a taste of things to come in our industry.”

Foundation Medicine is working quickly to bring its technology into mainstream medical practice. Next year, the company plans to market a test that will help physicians determine the best treatments and clinical trial options for each patient, based on his or her cancer’s unique genetic blueprint. The knowledge the company amasses about alterations in cancer genes will be reported on an interactive Web site, which customers can use to locate trials for their patients and stay on top of the latest developments in oncology treatment. Says Pellini: “Our objective is to touch the lives of all cancer patients starting in 2012.”

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