publication date: Apr. 18, 2016

ORIEN Partners with Pharma Companies To Develop Precision Medicines with Big Data 


The Oncology Research Information Exchange Network and M2Gen formed a bioinformatics collaboration with Celgene Corp.

The partnership, announced April 7, is called the ORIEN Avatar Research Program. The initiative is managed by M2Gen and is designed to generate large amounts of genetic and clinical information on patients consenting to the Total Cancer Care Protocol, a standard operating protocol used by ORIEN member institutions.

Celgene will serve as the founding industry member of a network of participants joining the program, which will have a subscription service for pharmaceutical companies.

In collaboration with M2Gen and ORIEN, de-identified patient information generated through the program will be provided to the pharmaceutical partners, which in turn can search for eligible individuals to participate in biomarker-driven clinical trials. Patients identified will have access to therapies in development that are most suited for their specific type of cancer and the unique molecular features of their disease.

“This innovative collaboration creates a pre-competitive space for pharmaceutical companies and prominent cancer centers nationwide that will benefit all participants involved,” ORIEN officials said in a statement. “Patients gain access to new trials and investigational treatments, pharmaceutical companies are provided with unique data analytics to assist them in the development of treatments through this targeted data access approach, and cancer centers can share data to accelerate discovery and expand the clinical trial options for patients while providing critical research in the overarching mission to better understand, treat and ultimately cure cancer.”

The ORIEN Avatar Research Program will focus on patients with advanced primary or metastatic disease, patients with limited treatment options, as well as patients who are likely to develop progressive disease.

“Together, we are creating a unique resource by partnering with multiple stakeholders including patients who consent to be followed throughout their lifetime so that we can ultimately provide patients with more options with unequalled precision,” said William Dalton, founder and CEO of M2Gen, and founding director of Moffitt Cancer Center’s DeBartolo Family Personalized Medicine Institute, which created the TCC Protocol and database. “The ORIEN Avatar Research Program represents a collaborative space within the healthcare community to drive new discoveries and shorten clinical development timelines by proactively matching patients to trials.

“This means we are able to identify the most in-need, underserved patients, anticipate their needs, and match them to cutting-edge trials. The result: more options for patients, and a more effective means to drive the development of life-saving treatments.”

The program aims to solve a systemic challenge in pharmaceutical research and development by dramatically increasing the patient population that can be screened for clinical trials.

“The ORIEN Avatar program will use an in-silico analysis approach to better design clinical trials and match patients to promising clinical trials to achieve their accrual targets so that new and improved treatments can be brought to market more rapidly, and help millions of patients worldwide,” Dalton said.

According to ORIEN, the cost of bringing a drug to market averages $2.6 billion, and it takes about 10-15 years to do so—causing research projects to fold when investigators cannot identify a large enough patient sample size for a trial.

“The ORIEN Avatar program is a standout in its approach to patient information gathering and sharing to form a more efficient system,” said Michael Pehl, president of hematology and oncology at Celgene. “This wealth of clinical and molecular data will potentially lead to a better understanding of molecular properties that are involved in a patient’s disease and what treatment designs might be most successful in battling their cancer. Building this resource in a multi-partner collaboration creates a wealth of data, which will potentially lead to better outcomes for patients.”

Cancer research and treatment have been hampered “for far too long…by an industry standard of individualism,” said Michael Caligiuri, CEO of the James Cancer Center at the Ohio State University, which co-founded ORIEN with Moffitt Cancer Center.

“We founded ORIEN in 2014 with the intent to break the mold and usher in a new culture of cooperation and collaboration in healthcare,” Caligiuri said. “With the data and information provided by the ORIEN Avatar Program, and support from industry leaders such as Celgene, we stand poised to make the promise of the next generation of cancer treatments a reality.”

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