URMC, Indivumed partners on cancer research tissue bank

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

The University of Rochester Medical Center has signed a three-year agreement with Indivumed, a Germany-based company, to establish a bank of human tissues and tumor samples that are expertly preserved and stored for use in cancer research.

Indivumed offers a broad range of specialized research services to biopharmaceutical companies and academia and actively performs a cancer biomarker development program. With its subsidiary IndivuTest, Indivumed provides high-quality tissue-based tumor analysis to patients and started an initiative with oncologists in Germany and the U.S. to improve personalized cancer therapy strategies in the clinical routine.

Approximately 15 other research institutions have formed similar partnerships with the company-including Georgetown University’s Lombardi Comprehensive Cancer Center in Washington, D.C., the Geisinger Health System in Pennsylvania, and several medical centers in Europe—enabling a worldwide network for researchers to access the biological specimens.

“Collecting and properly preserving human tissue is critically important to cancer research, but it’s difficult to fund and requires a specialized set of skills and expertise to build such a program,” said David C. Linehan, M.D., the Seymour I Schwartz professor and chair of the URMC Department of Surgery, and director of clinical operations at the Wilmot Cancer Institute. Linehan will be the supervising investigator for the URMC-Indivumed partnership.

“Our collaboration allows this to occur in an organized, coordinated way that will benefit all cancer researchers here at Wilmot and the URMC,” Linehan said.

Top-quality tissue-banking is an invaluable resource for both cancer treatment and research. When it comes to deciding on cancer treatment, more often doctors are considering a tumor’s unique gene characteristics and whether those pathways can be targeted with newer drugs. But in order to run the sophisticated tests that reveal a cancer’s precise genomic fingerprint, very high quality tumor specimens and tissue samples must be properly preserved with protocols designed to support genomic analysis.

And in cancer research, it’s challenging to collect and reproduce meaningful data without a reliable bank of tissue that has been preserved in a consistent way. Importantly, Linehan said, the URMC-Indivumed tissue bank will include information that correlates with patient survival, response to treatment, and whether the tumor was resistant to certain therapies, for example.

“This partnership allows us to engage in precision medicine in a much more substantive way,” said Stephen Dewhurst, Ph.D., vice dean for research at the UR School of Medicine and Dentistry. “Indivumed is a world-class operation and is very interested in collaborating with our researchers to drive innovation. By participating in the Indivumed global network, we’ll have access to a critical mass of biological samples and clinical data for use in unique clinical trials for our community.”

Financial details were not disclosed.

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