Champions Oncology Awarded $2 Million NCI Grant to Develop, Study Prostate Cancer Models

Champions Oncology Awarded $2 Million NCI Grant to Develop, Study Prostate Cancer Models

Champions Oncology has signed a $2 million competitive contract through the National Cancer Institute’s (NCI) Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) program to build and study metastatic prostate cancer models derived from ethnically diverse patients.

Fully characterized, ethnically diverse prostate cancer patient-derived xenograft (PDX) models are underrepresented among PDX banks, limiting opportunities for preclinical and translational oncology studies. In addition, both incidence and mortality rates of prostate cancer in African-American men are higher than in other groups.

A primary objective of the project is to create new tools to better understand the ethnic disparities in prostate cancer. To achieve this, Champions partnered with InnoGenomics, a molecular diagnostics technology company, to apply their high-sensitivity liquid biopsy techniques to PDX models.

The ethnically diverse prostate PDX models will be fully characterized and annotated. In addition to characterization of each model, Champions will also perform standard-of-care drug testing. The combined data will be then shared with the NCI to further prostate cancer research.

“We are very excited that the NCI has chosen Champions for this SBIR award and has recognized Champions’ expertise in quality management systems for commercializing the development of these models,” Angela Davies, Champions’ chief medical officer, said in a press release. “This award allows us to dramatically expand our prostate PDX program and demonstrate the benefits of new techniques and approaches that advance the field.”

Champions’ proposal, titled “Metastatic Prostate Cancer Patient Derived Xenograft Modeling; A New Operating Paradigm,” is a direct-to-Phase 2 project that Champions will develop with a network of collaborating sites.

The two-year contract with Champions is in response to SBIR’s Topic 355 – Cell and Animal-Based Models to Advance Cancer Ethnic Health Disparity Research.

In related news last May, findings from Dendreon’s Proceed registry, which is following patients’ outcomes in a real-world treatment setting, showed that African-American men with metastatic prostate cancer survived significantly longer than Caucasian men when treated with Provenge, a cancer vaccine.

Provenge (sipuleucel-T) is the only immunotherapy approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for the treatment of advanced prostate cancer. The drug works by reprogramming the body’s immune cells to attack cancer cells.

The registry showed that African-American patients had extended overall survival by 37.3 months when given Provenge, compared with 28 months in Caucasian patients. The same results were verified when analyzing patients with low prostate-specific antigen (PSA) levels at the time of treatment. The findings were considered encouraging by the study’s lead author, A. Oliver Sartor, given survival rate disparities between African-Americans and men of other ethnic groups.