Thomas Turi, chief scientific officer at Nexelis, tells us how a biomarker-led R&D approach is transforming drug development in disease areas like non-alcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH) and cancer, and provides best-practice tips for companies looking to harness this approach.
Biomarkers have already guided our understanding of several cancers and led to the development of several precision medicines. Recent approvals in highly heterogenous tumours, such as non-small cell lung cancer, are now targeting smaller patient populations – representing just a single-digit percentage of patients with aggressive cancers and poor prognosis.
Unsurprisingly, some major pharmaceutical companies are in the process of revamping their entire R&D approach to focus on biomarkers, and see such technology as the key to discovering new, breakthrough treatment options that also have the potential to transform care by allowing patients to undergo less exhaustive testing.
Thomas Turi, Ph.D. is part of the executive leadership at Nexelis, where he is chief scientific officer. He has 25 years’ pharmaceutical and contract research leadership experience, during which two of Dr Turi’s accomplishments were establishing the Biomarker Center of Excellence for Covance and serving as senior director of translation biomarkers and mechanistic biology at Pfizer. He has also previously served on the Board of Directors for Cellcarta (formerly Caprion Proteomics) and led several external partnerships, including those with Rules Based Medicine, Celera, Incyte and Affymetrix. He has also served on grant and programme project review boards for NASA’s Section for Biotechnology and Tissue Engineering.
With unrivaled expertise in immunology, five operating sites in North America and Europe, and a translational offer of services covering the needs of the pharmaceutical industry from the lead selection to the late clinical stage, Nexelis is a leading provider of assay development and advanced laboratory testing services in the infectious, metabolic and oncologic fields. Its versatile team of scientists, working with state-of-the-art technology platforms, were instrumental in the development, qualification, validation, and large-scale sample testing of assays that supported the FDA filing of almost 100 new molecular entities, including blockbuster vaccines and biologics, anti-viral drugs, immunotherapy, gene and cell therapy products.