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Thermo Fisher, Genome Canada Ink C$6M Collaboration on Cancer NGS Assays

NEW YORK – Thermo Fisher Scientific announced yesterday a three-year, C$6 million (US$4.5 million) collaboration with Genome Canada and the Ontario Institute for Cancer Research (OICR) to develop targeted next-generation sequencing-based assays and analysis software.

Under the terms of the agreement, the partners will develop three assays, one for rapid diagnosis of pancreatic cancer, and two for targeted treatments — in prostate and breast cancer.

The assays will simultaneously assess DNA and gene expression signatures to provide insight into cancer driver mutations and will be used to stratify patients in clinical trials in Ontario and elsewhere.

"OICR is a leader in clinical research, with extensive clinical trials in progress to improve care for patients with pancreatic, prostate and breast cancer," Jeff Smith, global lead of NGS precision medicine initiatives, clinical NGS, and oncology for Thermo Fisher, said in a statement. "When OICR approached our team with the idea for this project, we saw it as another exciting opportunity to bring Thermo Fisher's proven Ion Torrent technology to clinical laboratories across Canada and to contribute to future improvement of patient care."

The partnership builds on previous collaboration between OICR and Thermo Fisher, which will be used to inform assay development by providing biomarkers specific to the cancer types that have been validated by OICR.

The work is partly funded by a C$2 million grant from Genome Canada's Genomic Applications Partnership Program. OICR and Thermo Fisher will each provide C$2 million in direct or in-kind contributions to cover development and validation.

"By supporting research and clinical trials, Genome Canada is helping to put more of Ontario's innovative cancer diagnostics research into clinical use," added John Bartlett, diagnostic development program director at OICR. "This project has the potential to springboard advanced next-generation sequencing to routine clinical use in Ontario and across Canada."