Panna Sharma, President & CEO
With a heritage grounded in world-class clinical and scientific research and 80 patents globally, NJ-headquartered Cancer Genetics, Inc. (CGI) is setting new trends in the pharma space by offering genomic and biomarker based cancer diagnostics and clinical trial services targeted at a wide range of cancers. CGI has a unique focus on developing technologies and tests for various cancer detection and patient stratification challenges, including companion diagnostics and other FDA or CE based regulatory milestones. CGI partners and collaborates with biotech and pharmaceutical companies at an early stage with drug discovery, be it in silico, in vivo, or fundamental pharmacology. The discovery efforts are then brought into a Phase 1 and Phase 2 clinical trial, implementing all the companion diagnostic development for later stage trials including patient stratification and predicting patient response using biomarkers and genomics. “We are one of the few companies that have discovery, development, and patient diagnostics in one integrated company entirely focused on cancer,” states Panna Sharma, CEO and President of CGI.
Over the last couple of years, CGI has effectively given shape to this “bench to bedside” model by leveraging its internal portfolio development and select acquisitions, which can save drug development companies tens of millions of dollars, and potentially years by not having to go to multiple partners or technology companies. Moreover, CGI houses both genomic and proteomic platforms and has incorporated a wide range of immune marker capabilities, which enables it to perform virtually any type of testing required for oncology. Because of its multi-faceted technology and clinical expertise, the firm today has strong research alliances with leading cancer centers and academic organizations.
“Our unique ability is to help oncology clients not only understand the mechanisms of action in a combination program but also determine what kinds of biomarkers and genomic data will drive the right kind of patient stratification strategies in a trial,” Sharma remarks.
We are one of the few companies that have discovery, development, and patient diagnostics for oncology in one fully integrated company
This “bench to bedside” approach forecasts substantial growth for Cancer Genetics as it can power the development of next-gen therapeutics through the modeling of useful drug combinations. In context, he mentions CGI’s recent acquisition of vivoPharm, a company that has produced over 90 I-O models to characterize the efficacy and mechanisms of action for cancer drugs in addition to spawning robust capabilities in pharmacology and safety. While CGI addresses itself to clinical trial testing and patient setting, most of vivoPharm’s work centers on discovery thus making it a complementary capability to go from early-stage discovery through patient monitoring and clinical data management.
Another valued proposition that CGI introduces is drug rescue and recovery. Given its competence for genomic, proteomic, and immune marker assessments, CGI can quickly recognize a potential drug that fails in a Phase 3 trial and attempt to rescue it by looking at subsets of responders (patients) and finding ways to repurpose the drug for those subsets. Many a time, a potential drug fails in phase 3 due to substandard efficacy or progression for survival that does not match what is required. CGI then examines antigen response profiling or expression levels to tease out other potential combinations whereby the drug can be rescued by using an immuno-modulating agent or putting it in collaboration with an I-O drug or target.
Having earned an impressive track record of clinical excellence, CGI is poised to continue its growth in I-O, drug rescue, and repurposing programs. The firm is heavily inspired by its patients as they “drive our thinking around what new therapies are in demand, and what unmet issues are in patient care and improving outcomes,” says Sharma. From a geographic standpoint, CGI has opened branches in several locations in the US, with an established footprint in Australia, India, and China and is beginning to expand its coverage in Europe.