SkylineDx, Oncode Institute and Utrecht Holdings sign license agreement for innovative algorithm RAINFOREST
ROTTERDAM (The Netherlands) and SAN DIEGO (US), February 23, 2021: today, SkylineDx announces to have signed a license agreement with Oncode Institute and Utrecht Holdings on a shared patent covering the innovative algorithm RAINFOREST. This algorithm is based on Random Forest, a specific machine learning method, and is able to identify subgroups of patients that will benefit more than the population as a whole from a certain treatment . The performance of this algorithm is demonstrated on a dataset from a phase III (last phase of medicine research) colorectal cancer study. This study did not show any benefit for the drug (Cetuximab) under investigation, meaning that patients had the same risk of progressing whether they would have received Cetuximab or not. RAINFOREST, however, was able to identify a subgroup of patients (27.7%) that did significantly benefit and had a lower risk of progression if they would have been treated with the new drug.
RAINFOREST follows the manuscript describing the innovative algorithm GESTURE  and both show, although based on different methodology and input information, the importance of subgroup analysis in clinical trials where oncological drugs have been investigated. More than half of the clinical trials fail because the new drug is not able to show enough efficacy in the entire patient population it is being tested on. RAINFOREST and GESTURE demonstrate that these resources are not wasted if you can find the specific patients that do benefit and develop a biomarker that is able to identify these patients upfront in routine clinical practice. These algorithms can be applied to study results concerning different types of cancer as well as different treatment regimes.
“RAINFOREST and GESTURE are very important additions to cancer research and the fantastic result of the research conducted by Jeroen de Ridder’s lab at UMCU with the support of Oncode Institute”, comments Dharminder Chahal, CEO SkylineDx. “As we really share the same goal: improve the lives of cancer patients, we are very eager to apply these tools in support of (bio)pharmaceutical development to tailor cancer research to specific patient needs through our Strix biomarker discovery service .”
“Oncode is proud to have facilitated the transfer of this novel algorithm developed in the lab of Oncode Investigator Jeroen de Ridder to SkylineDx”, continues Ian Bell, Interim Valorization Director at Oncode. “This agreement not only supports Oncode’s mission of advancing opportunities that impact the treatment and health of cancer patients, but also confirms our support of the Dutch biotech industry, through licensing to homegrown companies. We look forward to seeing the success SkylineDx can achieve with RAINFOREST”.
"Science is teamwork, but making science actually benefit the patient requires Teamwork with a capital T. It is therefore fantastic to see that with the support of Oncode Institute and Utrecht Holdings, the basic research we do at the UMCU now finds its way to SkylineDx, where it will be used as a foundation for further development of products that improve the diagnosis of cancer patients," concludes Jeroen de Ridder, UMCU & Oncode PI on behalf of Utrecht Holdings.
SkylineDx is a biotechnology company, focused on research & development of molecular diagnostics in oncology and inflammatory diseases. The company is headquartered in Rotterdam (the Netherlands) and complemented with a field medical and scientific affairs team in the US and a CAP/CLIA certified laboratory in San Diego (California). SkylineDx uses its expertise to bridge the gap between academically discovered gene expression signatures and commercially available diagnostic products with high clinical utility, assisting healthcare professionals in accurately determining the type or status of disease or predict a patient’s response to treatment. Based on test results, healthcare professionals can tailor the treatment approach to the individual patient. To learn more, please visit www.skylinedx.com.
About Oncode Institute
At Oncode Institute we accelerate breakthrough discoveries and speed up their translation into new diagnostics and treatments for cancer patients. We unite over 900 oncology researchers at 12 Dutch institutes and we actively invest in scientific excellence, collaboration and valorization. A dedicated team of business development experts proactively identifies new inventions and facilitates their development into novel therapeutic and diagnostic approaches. With earmarked funding we invest in translational and clinical research, public-private partnerships and establishing new ventures. This accelerates the translation of breakthrough discoveries into tangible benefits for patients and society at large. For more information, please visit www.oncode.nl.
About Utrecht Holdings
Utrecht Holdings consists of UMCU Holding BV and UU Holding BV, 100% subsidiaries of the University Medical Center in Utrecht and Utrecht University respectively. Utrecht Holdings facilitates the commercialization of UU and UMCU innovations and intellectual property (IP) and invests in promising spin-offs based on scientific discovery from or related to both institutions. Since 2000, Utrecht Holdings invested in over 40 spinoffs. For more information, please visit www.utrechtholdings.nl.
Link to this press release on website SkylineDx (click here)
Ubels et al. RAINFOREST: a random forest approach to predict treatment benefit in data from (failed) clinical drug trials. Bioinformatics, volume 36, issue supplement_2, December 2020, pages i601-i609. Link to manuscript.
Ubels et al. Predicting treatment benefit in multiple myeloma through simulation of alternative treatment effects. Nature Communications, 9, 2943 (2018). Link to manuscript.
For more information on Strix biomarker discovery services, please visit www.strixservices.com.