Cenix BioScience will identify predictive biomarkers for Debiopharm Group™ preclinical oncology candidates under a collaboration whose value was not disclosed, the companies said today.

Cenix, a preclinical CRO and technology developer specialized in RNAi-, miRNA- and high content-driven pharmacology, said its first project will entail pinpointing potential biomarkers for Debiopharm by using its expertise in combining high-throughput screening with high content assays in cultured human cells.

Through its Definiens XD image analysis platform, Cenix said it will furnish multi-parametric microscopy-based readouts for a range of human cancer cell models, to identify genes and pathways that enhance or suppress therapeutic effects of drug candidates. Debiopharm focuses on developing prescription drugs targeting unmet medical needs.

“We deeply appreciate and are particularly gratified by this implied trust from yet another world-class and forward-leaning drug development organization, who also happens to be a long-standing expert in R&D outsourcing,” Christophe Echeverri, Ph.D., Cenix’s CEO/CSO, said in a statement.

Based in Germany with additional operations in the U.S. and Belgium, Cenix develops new reagent technologies focused on preclinical cell-based and in vivo applications including RNAi-based gene silencing, miRNA modulation, compound testing, advanced genomics analyses and high content screening.

Since expanding to the U.S. last year, Cenix has inked research agreements with the Children’s Tumor Foundation, a nonpfofit that funds research into neurofibromatosis; and gene silencing therapeutics developer ugichem.

Debiopharm is based in Switzerland and in-licenses, develops and/or co-develops biological and small molecule drug candidates in preclinical and clinical phases. The collaboration also fits with Debiopharm’s main area of expertise, developing oncology drugs, though the company has also developed drugs for indications in infectious diseases, metabolic diseases, immune-mediated diseases and neurodegenerative disorders.

The collaboration is Debiopharm’s second involving prospective cancer biomarkers to be announced in the past month. On April 24, Debiopharm said it identified several predictive biomarkers candidates, including a gene signature, through a collaboration with CRO Oncotest. The collaboration generated pharmacological data from a Debiopharm investigational drug in Oncotest’s 3D assay system for patient-derived xenografts, and correlated the data with genomic and transcriptomic information from Oncotest.

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