Industry News: Labcyte Commends Institute for Molecular Medicine Finland – Pfizer Leukemia Study Results

13 Feb 2015

Labcyte, a company revolutionizing life science research with its patented acoustic liquid handling technology, has praised the results of an international collaboration between the Institute for Molecular Medicine Finland (FIMM), University of Helsinki and the pharmaceutical company Pfizer. The research, described on 9 February, 2015, in the journal Nature[1], identified a previously unrecognized action of Pfizer’s axitinib as a potent inhibitor of the dominant mutation that confers drug resistance to all well tolerated treatments in patients with certain types of leukemia.

“This marks yet another major accomplishment for FIMM and an important step towards improved care for patients with leukemia,” says Mark Fischer-Colbrie, CEO and president of Labcyte. “FIMM’s innovative approach to characterizing drug resistance and the implications for personalized treatment is inspirational to many in our industry.” Labcyte works with FIMM to develop applications for its acoustic liquid handling technology.

In a groundbreaking Cancer Discovery publication in September 2013[2] researchers from FIMM described an Individualized Systems Medicine (ISM) strategy to tailor treatments for patients with chemorefractory acute myeloid leukemia. This novel iterative approach was developed to improve the predictability of drug response in cancer cells allowing FIMM researchers to adjust cancer treatment for each patient individually. A key component of ISM is the use of Drug Sensitivity and Resistance Testing (DSRT) to assess the effects of repurposed therapeutics for cancer treatment. The identification of a new action for axitinib, a drug originally developed by Pfizer to treat advanced renal cancer, highlights the power of the approach to improve patient care.

FIMM’s ISM strategy leverages the unique capabilities of Labcyte’s Echo® liquid handler and Access™ Workstation. During a multi-year collaboration Labcyte and FIMM determined that the ability to transfer liquids in increments of billionths of a liter with precision and accuracy is essential for achieving the high quality of data and dramatic cost reductions required to make the program successful.

“FIMM is dedicated to explore individualized system medicine in cancer treatment,” said Professor Olli Kallioniemi, the director of FIMM. “Direct testing of patient cells with approved cancer treatments allow us to hone in on tailored therapeutic options. We are able to observe a variety of therapies that might be re-purposed for treating cancer as well as to identify potential pathways for future drug development. Labcyte’s innovative products allow us to develop and scale our programs with great efficiency.”

1 Axitinib effectively inhibits BCR-ABL1(T315I) with a distinct binding conformation. Tea Pemovska, Eric Johnson, Mika Kontro, Gretchen A. Repasky, Jeffrey Chen, Peter Wells, Ciarán N. Cronin, Michele McTigue, Olli Kallioniemi, Kimmo Porkka, Brion W. Murray & Krister Wennerberg. 2015. Nature.
Advance online publication: http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/vaop/ncurrent/full/nature14119.html
2 Tea Pemovska, Mika Kontro, Bhagwan Yadav, et al., “Individualized Systems Medicine strategy to tailor treatments for patients with chemorefractory acute myeloid leukemia,” Cancer Discovery, 2013, 3:1416-1429.