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BostonGene, Thomas Jefferson University Partner on Head, Neck Cancer Research

NEW YORK – Biomedical software startup BostonGene on Tuesday announced a research collaboration with Thomas Jefferson University and its Sidney Kimmel Cancer Center-Jefferson Health affiliate to study the molecular, cellular, and immunologic profiles of patients with squamous cell carcinoma of the head and neck who are treated with two existing drugs.

Waltham, Massachusetts-based BostonGene will apply whole-exome and whole-transcriptome analysis to assess the tumor activity and tumor microenvironments of patients at various stages of squamous cell carcinoma who have been treated with tadalafil and nivolumab. Researchers will be looking to identify significant somatic alterations, evaluate gene-expression patterns, estimate tumor heterogeneity, identify TCR/BCR repertoires, and classify tumor microenvironments, the partners said.

Tadalafil, sold under the brand name Cialis, is a vasodilator has been approved for treatment of erectile dysfunction, benign prostatic hyperplasia, and pulmonary arterial hypertension. Nivolumab (Opdivo) is a monoclonal antibody used for various cancers.

"Leveraging BostonGene's detailed analysis will allow us to comprehensively assess the molecular profile of head and neck cancer patients treated with nivolumab and tadalafil," Joseph Curry, an otolaryngologist at Philadelphia's Thomas Jefferson University, said in a statement. "Using a data analytical approach to evaluate the molecular portrait and tumor microenvironment composition will help us to predict the benefits of the particular combination therapy for each patient.”

BostonGene President and CEO Andrew Feinberg said that the partnership will help demonstrate the clinical utility of the company's technology platform. "The collaboration will validate the use of comprehensive molecular analysis to correlate tumor activity and cellular composition with response to therapy, creating a significant opportunity to improve personalized care for patients with head and neck cancer," he said.

Privately held BostonGene emerged from stealth mode in May 2019. The firm has entered into several other research partnerships in the last year and a half, including with Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and Washington University.