Crown Bioscience, Inc., a leading global drug discovery and development service company, today announces that it has entered into a collaboration with Xstrahl Ltd, a leading designer and manufacturer of X-Ray solutions for radiation biology research. As part of the agreement, CrownBio will be implementing the SARRP research platform supplied by Xstrahl, based on state-of-the-art Image Guided Micro-Irradiation (IGMI™) techniques at its PRECOS facility in Nottingham, UK. As a result of the partnership, CrownBio will be at the forefront of providing contract research oncology models that provide an irradiation service based on targeted beam radiation therapy, to more closely mimic the clinical situation for patients in the preclinical setting to help improve potential cancer treatment regimens.

CrownBio is the largest supplier of oncology services, with a global footprint spanning three major continents in North America, Europe and Asia Pacific. Via its collaboration with Xstrahl, the company is now able to offer its customers computerized tomography (CT) imaging with precise radiation delivery. High resolution imaging enables researchers to pinpoint an exact clinical target and deliver a precise radiation dose to in vivo and in vitro models. The platform provides the ability to perform combination studies in patient derived xenograft (PDX) and cell line derived xenograft (CDX) models as well as in vitro, in addition to irradiated subjects for haematological or more fastidious models.

Jean-Pierre Wery, President of CrownBio comments, “The partnership represents CrownBio’s commitment to providing its pharmaceutical and biopharmaceutical customers with specialized techniques and services. Radiation therapy is part of the treatment regimen for the majority of cancer patients worldwide. Therefore providing preclinical models which more closely reflect a patient’s condition should be a potential option for validating the efficacy of novel therapies and potential compounds that make tumor cells more sensitive to radiation therapy (radiosensitizers) for the treatment of cancer. The use of the IGMI technique in conjunction with our commercial models will provide a unique portfolio of models which more closely mimic the treatment regimen in the clinic, but in the preclinical setting.”

CrownBio has unique clinically relevant models, which reflect the patient situation for each aspect of cancer progression, encompassing pre-cancerous lesions, primary tumors and metastasis. Jean-Pierre Wery continues, “We are delighted to partner with Xstrahl in order to further develop unique cutting-edge models that represent patients who have undergone radiation therapy. Conventional chemotherapy has been, for many years, the prevalent type of anti-cancer treatment. However its broad-based mechanisms (e.g. DNA alkylating agents) usually lead to severe systemic side effects and it is becoming increasingly important to consider alternatives to chemotherapy, such as radiation.”

The SARRP platform is designed to close the gap between current clinical techniques and radiation biology/radiotherapy. The platform enables researchers to confidently assess the efficacy and efficiency of current treatment regimes and provide new data to the medical community that can help to shape the future of radiation protocols and concurrent therapies.

Adrian Treverton - COO at Xstrahl Life Sciences said today, “This unique partnership with CrownBio will enable Xstrahl to enhance our understanding of unique models of radiation and apply this knowledge to the wider oncology drug discovery community. We want to transform the way researchers and clinicians conduct radiation research as well as providing the most advanced platforms for validating the efficacy of novel radiation therapies for cancer and research into normal tissue toxicity. Our expertise in targeted radiotherapy provides a perfect complement to CrownBio’s existing imaging services in order to enhance radiation oncology.”

Preclinical models in radiation oncology are essential tools for cancer research and therapeutics. CrownBio is looking to develop models that can be used to test radiation therapy, including in vitro as well as in vivo orthotopic xenograft models which can ultimately be used to develop more effective cancer therapies.

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Additional Information
Jean-Pierre Wery and Adrian Treverton took part in an interview with Damien Doherty, the editor of Drug Discovery World. A few pertinent questions and answers are listed below.

What are radiation models of cancer?
Adrian: What we are trying to do is take a cancer model like the PDX model (patient-derived tumor xenograft), which is a human-derived cancer growing in an in vivo model and apply radiation to that model. What we are doing is very similar to how you would look at any other molecular targeted therapies for cancer but, in this case, we’re actually going to be using radiation in the delivery.

How can these models be used to develop more effective oncology therapies?
Jean Pierre: The role of these types of models is to learn a great deal about the compounds before you commit to taking a molecule into a human clinical trial. Often, in the early stages of discovery, you are not sure about what the best indication is and whether you should you target lung cancer, for example, and if so, which type and so forth.

However, these new models would truly represent the diversity that you see in cancer patients and really help you decide what each agent is going to be most suitable for. The model will also do this at a patient level because each of these models will truly represent a patient.

Adrian: Considering 60-70% of cancer patients will receive radiation as a part of their treatment, enhancing the models would bring radiation into it as another modality but it would also help us to better understand the mechanisms at work throughout the entire treatment process.

At the moment, it is often that chemotherapy is given, stopped, and followed up with more radiation and chemotherapy. By using these models, you can actually predict which patients would actually benefit from some sort of combination therapy… which cancers would be more radio-resistant and therefore a better candidate for more molecular targets rather than the radiation approach.

What are Xstrahl’s and CrownBio’s plans for the future?
Jean Pierre: Each patient will be characterized to a great deal extent individually to understand what specific cancer is really driving the process. Hopefully, a patient would then have a collection of available treatments and the most suitable treatment for the specific cancer could be picked, which would most likely be a combination of drug and radiation or a cocktail of drugs. That is the end goal I think. We still have a long way to go but I think that these models that we are discussing today will be a big help in getting there