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Biomarker discovery & assay development

Preclinical & clinical assays

  • Genotyping from liquid biopsies
  • Preclinical assessment of response and resistance in mouse models

In vitro & in vivo pharmacology

Belfer Center teams bring a combined 40 years’ worth of drug discovery and development experience, including deep expertise in IND-enabling preclinical pharmacological studies such as:

  • Responder identification hypothesis and validation
  • Efficacy
  • Mechanism of action
  • Pharmacokinetics/pharmacodynamics
  • Biomarker identification

Our scientists conduct these studies using a variety of clinically relevant in vitro and in vivo disease model systems.

Co-clinical trials

In this approach, pioneered at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, investigators generate patient-derived xenograft models in real time using biopsy materials from patients, including those enrolled in clinical trials. These models are being used to develop the next generation of cancer therapies.

This approach yields mechanistic understanding of response and resistance (innate and acquired) and delineation and prioritization of novel combinations. It also provides an opportunity to run preclinical studies in clinically relevant models, define patient responder populations, and refine dosing regimens.  

Target identification & validation

The Belfer Center leverages a portfolio of advanced screening technologies (e.g., protein destabilization screens, RNA sequencing, RNA interference, CRISPR gene editing) to identify and validate potential drug targets in clinical samples and in vitro and in vivo disease models. These efforts combine our world-class in vivo capabilities with pioneering and rigorous target ID platforms. Our target identification efforts feed directly into our partners' drug discovery efforts, fueling preclinical development pathways directed toward IND submission. 

Tumor immune infiltrate profiling

In collaboration with the Center for Immmune Oncology, the Belfer Center profiles human immune infiltrate from freshly resected human tumors and biopsies. This capability has delineated populations in specific indications likely to respond to immunomodulatory therapeutics and provided novel insights into patient populations and mechanisms of resistance. This capability can inform partners’ clinical trials (indication selection, patient selection, responder ID hypothesis), combination strategies, and novel target selection. 

Human immune infiltrate tumor profiling capabilities:

  • Flow cytometry utilizing 25+ markers
  • IHC profiling with 15+ markers
  • Clinical annotation correlation
  • Correlation with genotype

In addition, the Belfer Center has state-of-the-art profiling capabilities of murine tumors. Evaluating the tumor immune infiltrate in preclinical models allows detailed mechanistic studies and provides data to support regulatory filings. 

Murine immune infiltrate tumor profiling capabilities:

  • Flow cytometry using 20+ markers
  • IHC profiling with 15+ markers (with Harvard rodent core)
  • Ability to incorporate into efficacy & mechanistic studies
  • GEMMs and syngeneic models