Wilmington, DE, July 20, 2017 – Personalized cancer therapies are on the horizon thanks to a new genomic cancer research partnership between the Gene Editing Institute of Christiana Care Health System’s Helen F. Graham Cancer Center & Research Institute and the biotechnology company NovellusDx.
The Gene Editing Institute has licensed its innovative gene editing technology to Jerusalem-based NovellusDx to improve the efficiency and speed of NovellusDx’s cancer diagnostic screening tools. With the use of advanced gene editing technology, NovellusDx will be able to identify the genetic mechanism responsible for both the onset and progression of many types of cancer and determine the most effective cancer therapy. NovellusDx will pay royalties to Christiana Care for ten years for the use of its innovative gene editing technology.
“This partnership promises to redefine and transform cancer treatment by speeding progress in breakthrough personalized medicine for many forms of cancer,” said Nicholas J. Petrelli, M.D., the Bank of America endowed medical director of Christiana Care’s Helen F. Graham Cancer Center & Research Institute.
“This work has the potential to change the way cancer treatment is carried out,” said Haim Gil-Ad, CEO of NovellusDx. “Once the genetic makeup of a patient is known, we will be able to immediately test and monitor the effect of a patient’s mutations in live cells and determine the appropriate treatment for that patient.”
Today, genomic sequencing plays an ever-increasing role in cancer treatment, but the functional significance of most mutations found in a patient’s DNA is unknown and so is the effect drugs have on them. NovellusDx will use the gene editing tools to help determine which drug is best for individual patients by recreating the mutations in a test system and then screening a series of known cancer drugs against those mutations to determine their efficacy.
“The Gene Editing Institute is thrilled to partner with the outstanding scientific team at NovellusDx who are international leaders in the development of personalized medicine and cancer treatment,” said Eric Kmiec, Ph.D., director of the Gene Editing Institute. “We look forward to a long, productive relationship not only in helping to identify effective cancer treatments but also in understanding the mechanism of gene editing in human cells.”
“Combining our state-of-the-art gene editing technology with NovellusDx’s expertise,” Kmiec continued, “will accelerate and improve NovellusDx’s diagnostic testing process, reducing the time it takes to generate the treatment options for the physician and the patient. This will lead to immediate clinical applications and the delivery of precision and personalized cancer therapy at its very best.”
NovellusDx has established a unique approach to identify unknown “driver” gene mutations that can accelerate or facilitate cancer progression. With clinical partners throughout the world, NovellusDx obtains DNA sequence information and creates a personal profile of the genetic mutations from individual patients. Using the licensed gene editing technology from the Gene Editing Institute, NovellusDx will be able to define the impact of each mutation on the activity of signaling pathways of the tumor and suggest the most effective therapy to the patient’s physician.
“The technology we are commercializing from the Gene Editing Institute will allow us to go from next generation sequencing data to real genes with all of the specific patient’s mutations faster and with more reliably, allowing us to scale-up and meet our demand while reducing the turnaround time,” said Michael Vidne, chief commercial officer at NovellusDx.
A $900,000 grant from the U.S.-Israel Binational Industrial Research and Development (BIRD) Foundation in December 2016 facilitated the Gene Editing Institute-NovellusDx partnership. The BIRD Foundation promotes collaboration between U.S. and Israeli companies in a wide range of technological fields for the purpose of joint product development.
“We are pleased to support this significant collaboration which will not only benefit the parties but will advance personalized medicine, improving the chances of effective cancer treatment,” said Eitan Yudilevich, Ph.D., executive director of the BIRD Foundation.
About the Gene Editing Institute
The Gene Editing Institute of Christiana Care Health System’s Helen Graham Cancer Center & Research Institute is a worldwide leader in personalized genetic medicine. Founded and led by Eric Kmiec, Ph.D., the Gene Editing Institute is unlocking the genetic mechanisms that drive cancer and that can lead to new therapies and pharmaceuticals to revolutionize cancer treatment, as well as providing instruction in the design and implementation of genetic tools. Gene editing in lung cancer research has already begun so that clinical trials can be initiated. The Gene Editing Institute is integrated into the Molecular Screening Facility at The Wistar Institute in Philadelphia, PA, where its innovative gene-editing technologies are available to research projects at Wistar and to external users. Working with Wistar scientists, the Gene Editing Institute has begun research to conduct a clinical trial in melanoma. With funding from the U.S. National Institutes of Health, the Gene Editing Institute is partnering with Nemours to develop a gene editing strategy for the treatment of sickle cell anemia and leukemia. A partnership with Bio-Rad Inc. advances a gene editing educational curriculum.
NovellusDx’s mission is to provide functional information about mutations and their responses to drugs so that oncologists can treat patients with precision therapies and bio-pharmaceutical companies can develop drugs more effectively. The NovellusDx approach is to monitor the functional effects of mutations and observe the effects of drugs, drug combinations and drug candidates on the activity level caused by the mutations. NovellusDx’s headquarters and research and development operations are based in Jerusalem, Israel. Service labs are about to expand to the U.S., the European Union and Asia.