Research Initiative Aims to Uncover First Biomarker for Pancreatic Cancer

Small Boston-based biotech, Berg Pharma, is collaborating with hospitals and research teams to discover and validate the first-ever clinical biomarker to diagnose and treat pancreatic cancer.

The cross-sector collaboration includes Berg, a biopharmaceutical company committed to uncovering health solutions through a data driven, biological research approach; the Cancer Center at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center (BIDMC), a Harvard Medical School teaching hospital, and the Pancreatic Cancer Research Team (PCRT) managed by Cancer Research and Biostatistics (CRAB). Together, the organizations will work to eradicate the disease.

According to the National Cancer Institute (NCI), in 2014, nearly 47,000 Americans were diagnosed with pancreatic cancer, a disease from which only 6.7 percent survive five years after diagnosis. Currently, pancreatic cancer is the fourth-leading cause of cancer-related death.

“Pancreatic cancer will become the No. 2 cause of cancer death in the United States within five years, surpassing both breast and colon cancer,” said James Moser, MD, director of the research team for BIDMC’s new Pancreas and Liver Institute and an Associate Professor of Surgery at Harvard Medical School. “Finding a new biomarker will bring real hope to patients with pancreatic cancer. Currently, 70 percent of people with even the smallest pancreatic tumors pass up potentially life-saving treatments. We believe that our new collaboration with Berg and the Pancreatic Cancer Research Team represents the dawn of the kind of precision medicine needed to beat this terrible disease.”

Under the collaboration, the BIDMC Cancer Center and PCRT will design clinical trials and provide both healthy and treated pancreatic tissue, bio-fluids and treatment results from patients to Berg for analysis using Berg’s Interrogative Biology platform, which can synthesize trillions of data points per sample. The system will search for variations in cells that contribute to pancreatic cancer, which, once identified, should allow physicians to attack the disease before it advances.

“This first of its kind collaboration is a step in offering hope to patients and families battling pancreatic cancer, which is one of the most deadly cancers affecting so many people,” said Niven R. Narain, Co-Founder, President and Chief Technology Officer of Berg. “This partnership is taking a true precision medicine approach to understand and treat pancreatic cancer. We will employ Berg’s Interrogative Biology Platform, which merges biology with technology to match the right patients to the right drugs based on the patient’s responses, and most importantly, to be able to detect this silent disease earlier so that effective treatments can lead to longer survival.”

Berg’s Interrogative Biology Platform integrates molecular data directly from a patient with actionable information to recommend efficient and safe treatment pathways, insurance companies with health economics analyses to develop more relevant formulary and governments with a data ecosystem for financial modeling of healthcare needs of the population.

Source: Berg

Last updated: 4/7/15; 12:30pm EST

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