Three companies, Synarc, Surromed, and Affymetrix, serve as models for successfully interfacing resources from the public and private sectors for the development of biomarkers for clinical trials. Synarc (www.synarc.com), founded in 1998, is a global company designed to bring together medical imaging and molecular marker services to enhance biomarker development and validation and accelerate clinical trials for arthritis and osteoporosis. Synarc provides a complete resource for investigators using imaging markers in a clinical trial by assisting clinicians with all steps of the process, including protocol review and design, patient selection and screening, biomarker assay development and analysis, data management, and presentation of results. Partnered with academia (Stanford University) as well as private-sector investors, Synarc currently manages over 100 clinical trials globally and provides a model for combining scientific, clinical, and data managerial experts to expedite drug development.
Surromed (www.surromed.com), a privately held biotechnology company, develops tools and technologies for comprehensive phenotypic analysis. The company has recently announced a multiyear collaboration with the nonprofit Palo Alto Medical Foundation, a multispecialty group practice with over 400 physicians. The goal of the collaboration is to identify biological markers by conducting clinical phenotyping research in multiple disease areas, beginning with rheumatoid arthritis. The collaboration will combine Surromed's integrated phenotyping platform with the clinical expertise of the Palo Alto Medical Foundation to improve the discovery and development of diagnostic and therapeutic products.
Another unique partnership has been drawn between Affymetrix, Inc. (www.affymetrix.com), a producer of microarray technology, and the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation Therapeutics, Inc. (CFFTI). Under this arrangement, CFFTI offers subsidies for the purchase of specific genome arrays from Affymetrix by academic, not-for-profit research laboratories and discounts for their purchase by certain research units of for-profit entities that have a preexisting relationship with the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation for the purpose of conducting research related to cystic fibrosis. This arrangement will enable researchers to expand their research capacity in identifying and evaluating genes as biomarkers for cystic fibrosis. Affymetrix has agreed to sell arrays to research laboratories and for-profit laboratories selected by CFFTI prior to the general commercial availability of the arrays and at substantially discounted prices. In exchange for receiving the subsidy or the discount, recipients will conduct cystic-fibrosis-related experiments that utilize the arrays and submit data from those experiments to a database managed by CFFTI and the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill. Each qualified user will have access to this database for the purpose of data mining.
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