Aspect Biosystems’ microfluidic 3D bioprinting platform is going to be used to develop highly physiological, high-throughput tissues for the accurate and predictive screening of immuno-therapeutics targeting difficult-to-treat cancers such as triple negative breast cancer. The $2.2M cancer drug screening project is made possible by contributions from CQDM, the Canadian Cancer Society, Merck, GSK, Aspect Biosystems, and McGill University. The common goal of the project is to drive innovation that will unlock the discovery of novel therapeutic targets and the development of immuno-oncology therapeutics.
“We are thrilled to partner with global biopharmaceutical leaders, GSK and Merck, as well as world-class groups at McGill and the Canadian Cancer Society that are dedicated to finding cures for cancer,” said Tamer Mohamed, Chief Executive Officer at Aspect Biosystems. “We are deeply committed to forming strategic partnerships to accelerate the impact of our technology on patient outcomes. In addition to our partnerships and programs focused on developing tissue therapeutics for regenerative medicine, our 3D bioprinting platform is also enabling breakthroughs in therapeutic discovery. This public-private partnership is a great example of combining state-of-the-art technology and science with world-class expertise and resources to accelerate the discovery and development of new therapies for patients.”
Dr. Morag Park and her team at Goodman Cancer Research Centre and McGill University Health Centre are collaborating with Aspect Biosystems to reproduce tumors from living cells of breast cancer patients. This collaboration will leverage Aspect’s microfluidic 3D bioprinting platform to create physiologically-relevant 3D tissues containing patient-derived cells to assess the efficacy of anti-cancer drugs and to predict a patient’s response to treatment.
“We are excited to work with Aspect’s innovative team to combine our bio-bank of patient-matched tumor-associated cells with Aspect’s microfluidic 3D bioprinting technology to create programmable 3D tumor models,” said Dr. Park, director, Goodman Cancer Research Centre at McGill University. “Solid tumor growth is regulated by complex interactions of tumor cells with the tumor microenvironment. This collaboration seeks to create a powerful new platform for studying these critical interactions in a human-relevant environment and, ultimately, accelerate the discovery and development of novel cancer immunotherapies.”
A key contributor to this project is CQDM, a biopharma-based research consortium with the mission to fund the development of innovative technologies to accelerate drug discovery and development. Its business model is based on a collaborative approach bringing together pharma companies, SMEs and governments who share the costs of R&D. This reduces the risks inherent to early-stage research and fills a gap to drive innovation across the academic and private sectors. CQDM receives contributions from 13 lead Pharma, the Quebec’s Ministry of Economy and Innovation and from the Government of Canada. Since 2008, CQDM has supported the development of 64 outstanding innovative technologies totaling $68M in funding.
“As a founding member of the CQDM, Merck Canada is proud to support this investment in R&D with the objective of potentially improving patient response to some treatments for breast cancer patients,” said Anna Van Acker, President and Managing director, Merck Canada Inc. “We believe that collaboration between public sector, academia, patients, NGOs, industry and government will lead to innovations that improve patient outcomes and today’s announcement is yet another example of the modern R&D model we are pursuing in Canada.”