14 December, 2018—The Xiamen Encheng Group Co., Ltd., a pharmaceutical services and precision medicine-focused company located in Xiamen City, Fujian Province, China, announced today that it has entered into a strategic partnership with DarwinHealth,Inc. a New York City biotechnology company. Specifically, the Encheng Group will exclusively license the New York State Department of Health CLIA-certified DarwinOncoTarget and DarwinOncoTreat tests as part of a multi-year agreement that will grant Encheng the rights to deploy, evaluate, and market them in the Greater China region, including Hong Kong, Macao, and Taiwan. The tests licensed by Encheng utilize novel, proprietary algorithms developed by Professor Andrea Califano and Dr. Mariano Alvarez, based on their work in the Califano Laboratory at Columbia University. The DarwinOncoTarget? and DarwinOncoTreat? tests—combined into a comprehensive Darwin Oncology Report—analyze whole transcriptome sequencing data (RNASeq) from patient-derived tumor samples to identify optimal therapeutic options on an individual patient basis. Specifically, DarwinOncoTarget? identifies aberrantly activated proteins for which a clinically-relevant targeted inhibitor already exists, thereby matching tumor-specific dependencies with a potential therapeutic option. The complementary DarwinOncoTreat? test identifies drugs targeting tumor-checkpoints, comprising multiple master regulator proteins representing critical tumor dependencies, based on the experimentally assessed ability of specific drugs to revert their activity in appropriate models. The associated Report combines the results of the two tests, thereby providing a comprehensive set of target-based therapeutic options customized for a specific tumor in an individual patient. As part of the collaboration, Encheng will use the two tests to optimize precision-focused cancer therapy. “Cancer treatment poses a huge challenge,” said Dr. Bin Wang, Chairman of the Encheng Group. “DarwinOncoTarget and DarwinOncoTreat algorithms represent highly innovative technologies for interpreting tumor-derived RNA expression profiles. Therapeutic approaches to precision-based cancer treatment based on this innovative technology will be evaluated in the context of patient-specific PDX models and tumor-like cultures at Encheng's Center for Precision Medicine in Shanghai, and we expect that the treatment protocols predicted by DarwinHealth's algorithms will improve upon the current status of medical treatment for cancer.” Explaining the rationale for their cooperative agreement, Dr.Califano notes that “Based on 2015 data, there are more than 4.3 million new cancer cases reported annually in China. This is an enormous burden, especially considering that the vast majority of cancer patients lack actionable mutations, or they fail to respond to, or relapse, following standard of care treatment.” He adds: “As a result, should standard of care therapy fail, these tests may potentially help clinical investigators and oncologists in China select additional targeted treatments best suited to a specific tumor in a mutation-agnostic fashion, at any stage of progression.”
“We are pleased to have made these tests available exclusively to the Encheng Group for their use in China under the terms of a long-term licensing agreement,” said Dr. Gideon Bosker, CEO and co-founder of DarwinHealth. “Encheng's long-term commitment to advancing precision oncology in China within the context of their healthcare services and PDX work station makes it a logical partner for our technology which, we feel, has unique application and relevance to the precision- and technology-focused approaches being deployed by the academic oncology community in China.” Under the terms of the exclusive license—which includes milestone payments and royalties—the two companies will combine their advanced technologies in big data analytics and systems biology to achieve complementarity and innovation in the field of precision cancer medicine. The aim—under Encheng's supervision and R&D efforts— is to establish a pioneering platform for the Greater China geography to more precisely guide the use of available therapeutics on an individual cancer patient basis. In addition, the collaboration represents a coordinated effort to identify more effective treatment for patients in that geography, while achieving the full clinical value and commercial potential of the licensed technology. About the Encheng GroupA leading innovator in China's healthcare space, the Encheng Group integrates pharmaceutical research and development, production and sales through an established network throughout China. It has strategically partnered with a number of cancer authorities, research institutions, and prominent academicians in China. Encheng is actively conducting research on PDX models and tumor-like cultures to advance its drug development platforms and clinical services in the precision-focused cancer medicine space. About DarwinHealthCo-founded by Professor Andrea Califano and Dr. Gideon Bosker, DarwinHealth? is a precision-focused cancer medicine company located on New York City that has developed, owns, and utilizes proprietary algorithms and methodologies to match virtually every individual cancer patient – at every stage of their disease – with those drugs and drug combinations that are optimally suited to produce successful treatment outcomes. Its New York State Department of Health CLIA-certified DarwinOncoTarget and DarwinOncoTreat tests, which are available in the U.S. exclusively from the Columbia University Department of Pathology, represent the company's foundational, proprietary clinical tool and laboratory test for identifying, in an individual patient, targeted therapy for a specific tumor independent of its mutational status and genomic profile. Importantly, these same methodologies also can be used to prioritize drugs and drug combinations of unknown potential against the vast majority of human malignancies. As a result, they are invaluable for helping pharmaceutical companies optimize their developmental compound pipelines. In addition, they provide DarwinHealth? with an edge drug discovery platform for prioritizing highly effective and yet under-valued compounds for its own acquisition, in-licensing, and clinical development programs.