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Collaborating for Oncology
Unprecedented Transformation in Care Delivery Across Asia Pacific

Crown Bioscience (Crown) is a drug discovery company, with global operations in China, the USA and the UK. They recently signed an agreement with The Shanghai Institute of Materia Medica (SIMM) to develop and build a mouse clinical trial center in Taicang city in China. It is aimed to be the world's first and largest mouse clinical center with the most advanced translational oncology platforms and fully annotated collections of patient derived xenograft (PDX) models.

One of the center's first plans is to combined existing model collections of both organizations and build new models focusing on major Asian cancer types, such as liver and gastric cancers.

SIMM is a comprehensive research institution for drug discovery in China.

Rachel Lim spoke to Dr Jean-Pierre Wery, Crown's president, about this collaboration what he hopes to gain from it.

APBN: What were the factors taken into consideration when SIMM and Crown decided to collaborate?

Dr. Wery: I believe there are great synergies between our two organizations. SIMM is very passionate about discovering and developing new medicines addressing important unmet medical needs for China and for the world. Crown is very passionate about developing and deploying new technologies to radically change the efficiency of the drug discovery and development process. SIMM had been looking for a partner with technologies and capabilities that would truly make a difference and help them achieve their goals. Crown is very fortunate to be chosen as SIMM's partner.

APBN: What were the reasons behind choosing to locate in Taicang?

Dr. Wery: Taicang city, which is located very close to Shanghai, has created a very favorable and supportive environment to support the implementation and growth of young, high-tech companies. Crown was able to set up its operation in a brand new scientific research park with all the tools and amenities to support its success and expansion.

APBN: What do you hope to gain or achieve from this collaboration?

Dr. Wery: SIMM has an impressive pipeline with several promising new oncology drug candidates. So, since it is known that most new drug candidates will potentially fail in early clinical development, they are looking to deploy innovative translational technologies to help them refine their clinical development and patient selection strategies. Ultimately, the goal is to make sure that the right molecule will reach and help the right patient. Crown is always interested to refine its technologies. For our HuTrial platform, where we simulate actual human clinical trials using patient derived xenograft models (PDX), access to a larger number of models and a greater diversity of models would significantly strengthen our platform. One of the goals of the new centre will be to develop and fully characterize thousands of PDX models, therefore greatly enhancing the predictive power of our translational technologies and enabling a much more efficient clinical development of important new drug candidates.

APBN: Why are the two companies focusing on PDX? What are the advantages of that in the terms of oncology research?

Dr. Wery: The PDX technology truly holds the potential to radically change the efficiency and probability of success for new drug discovery in Oncology. If you look at the whole process of discovering and developing new drugs, the step which is the most critical in driving the cost and efficiency is the probability of success of Phase 2 clinical trial. So, if you have a very predictive translational tool, such as Crown's PDX models, which can teach you what is the most likely successful indication for your new drug candidate, and what is the most likely patient population who will benefit from your drug candidate, and how you can select these patients, such a tool can have a profound impact on how you will design your clinical trials for your drug candidate and ultimately influence how successful your drug can be in the clinic.

APBN: How will this collaboration impact the China oncology market and research in oncology in general?

Dr. Wery: The field of new drug discovery and development is extremely active in China. Many very interesting new molecules are being developed, especially in oncology. SIMM plays a key role in that effort and we believe that through our collaboration new important molecules will be developed faster, at a lower cost and with a greater probability of success. This is especially important today since the rate of cancer incidence in Asia is increasing rapidly and there are significant unmet medical needs, especially for the leading cancers such as gastric cancer, liver cancer and lung cancer. The ability to rapidly and more efficiently bring to the market innovative medicines will save many lives and have profound impact on the healthcare system and market in Asian countries.

About the Interviewee

Prior to joining CrownBio, Dr. Jean-Pierre Wery was Chief Scientific Officer at Monarch Life Sciences, a company dedicated to the discovery and development of protein biomarkers. Prior to joining Monarch, Dr. Wery spent three years at Vitae Pharmaceuticals, Inc. where he was VP of Computational Drug Discovery. Before joining Vitae he worked for 12 years at Eli Lilly and Company in various scientific and management positions. Dr. Wery received his B.S. and Ph.D. in Physics from the U. of Liege, Belgium. Following his Ph.D., he did postdoctoral studies at Purdue University with Prof. Jack Johnson. Dr. Wery has authored more than 50 abstracts and publications.

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