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Fast Track to Innovation: Spanish biotechnological enterprise seeks a research company, a big data company and a big pharma in order to develop a personalized cancer therapeutic research.

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Databases, Database Management, Data Mining
Gene Expression, Proteome Research
Population genetics
Pharmaceuticals/fine chemicals
Research and experimental development on biotechnology


A Spanish biotechnological company is preparing a project proposal for a Fast Track to Innovation call. The enterprise is specialized in the design and development of solutions based on in vivo zebrafish assays and they seek three different partners for reserach cooperation agreements: a genome research company, a big data company and a big pharma. The sought partners should complete the roadmap needed to provide the healthcare market with a novel in vivo platform to cancer treatment.



A biotechnological company, based in Spain, is leader in the development and commercialization of novel, tailor-made solutions based on in vivo zebrafish assays. The team count on highly qualified biotechnology experts, a fully equipped biotech laboratory and an animal facility equipped with 76 aquariums (capacity for 2.500 zebrafish).

Thanks to the extensive knowledge acquired by the R&D projects performed in the field for many years, and a close collaboration with hospitals and cancer research institutions, they have identified a remarkable opportunity to develop a research project based on in vivo zebrafish assays for cancer treatment.

A major difficulty found in effective cancer treatment is the complexity of the biological mechanism underlying cancer onset and disease progression. This is because the genetic makeup and metabolic profile of each individual patient influence the effect of anticancer drugs. Therefore, different people respond differently to the same therapy. The aim of the project would be to bring to the healthcare market a novel real time in vivo platform for personalized cancer treatment based on the use of zebrafish “avatars” as personalized, living test tubes.

In the project, a clinical study of the use of zebrafish avatars with colon cancer will be performed. Firstly, a complete molecular profiling will be performed, and it will stratify them according to cancer phenotypes. Then, for each cancer phenotype, the zebrafish xenotransplantation platform will be used in the selection of the most effective drug combinations, creating a phenotypes-molecules library (available in the form of a software tool).

This database (software) will allow narrowing the drug combinations that will work best for each cancer phenotype, so the number of fishes required to perform the study in patients can be significantly reduced (firstly patients will be stratified according to phenotype, and only a reduce number of experiments with a limited number of drug combinations will have to be performed).

The company is looking to build up a consortium to apply for a Fast Track to Innovation call (February 2020) in the scope of personalized cancer therapeutics, specifically colon cancer. The enterprise, as main partner involved in the project, will work in cooperation with a public institution, a research center and a university (all of them as subcontractors in the project).

In order to build up a consortium, partners with the following profiles will be evaluated:

- A genome research company: to create the genetic and molecular profile of each type of tumor (biopsies from patients) carrying out NGS (Next-Generation Sequencing) studies such as sequencing, transcriptomics. In addition, it is required bioinformatics analysis.
- A big data company: to create a database with all obtained data (software).
- And a big pharma (drug development): to count with a specified pipeline of potential antitumor drugs (against colon cancer) in order to validate the zebrafish models.

Official deadline for the call: 19/02/2020
Deadline for expressions of interest: 17/10/2020
Anticipated duration of the project: 2 years

Advantages & innovations

Cooperation plus value: 
The idea of analyzing individually the tumor of a patient to determine what combination of drugs will work best is what personalized cancer care is all about. This level of specificity will also involve greater potential to decrease toxic side effects. This in vivo model will allow performing efficacy assays providing as an excellent tool for anti-cancer drug discovery through large-scale screens, candidate drug testing, and target identification.

Technical Specification or Expertise Sought

Cooperation sought: 
1. Genome research company: NGS (sequencing, transcriptomics, bioinformatics). 2. Big data company: creation of a database with all obtained data (software). 3. Big pharma (drug development): specified pipeline of potential antitumor drugs (against colon cancer).

Stage of development

Cooperation stage dev stage: 
Proposal under development

Partner sought

Cooperation area: 
Type of partner sought: - Genome research company. - Big data company. - Big pharma (drug development). Specific area of activity of the partner: - NGS services (sequencing, exome, transcriptomics, etc.). - Bioinformatics. - Pharmaceutical industry (drug development). Task to be performed: - Genome research company: sequencing, transcriptomics, bioinformatics. - Big data company: Creation of a database with all obtained data (software). - Big pharma (drug development): specified pipeline of potential antitumor drugs (against colon cancer). It is preferable partners with experience in EU and international projects development.

Type and size

Cooperation task: 
SME 11-50,>500 MNE,251-500,SME 51-250,>500