Towards tailored cancer treatments

Research cooperation between Bayer and Auria Biobank has had a promising start. It may also lead to other cancer research cooperation in Finland.

German pharmaceutical company, Bayer, started cooperation with Finnish Auria Biobank in April 2015 in order to develop new and more effective cancer treatments.

“This is collaboration in the early phase of pharmaceutical development,” says Tarja Jalava, head of Bayer’s global clinical development.

Auria is a hospital biobank with extensive sample collections over several years. The samples include tissue, blood, various discharges and cellular DNA, and the patients who donated the samples gave their consent for their use for scientific purposes.

Together we are stronger

“In addition to its extensive sample collection, Auria can combine the samples with patient information data and electronic register data over a longer period of time. This provides a unique opportunity for research. We at Bayer have years of experience and the prerequisites for pharmaceutical research. Our goal is to develop new tailored treatments for various cancers together,” Jalava says.

The purpose of the collaboration is to analyse samples and clinical data and to look for biomarkers. Biomarkers will enable the development of tailored treatments and help us understand the effects of a drug on a patient.

In accordance with the Biobank Act, Bayer will return all new data acquired during the research collaboration back to Auria Biobank after the research has been completed.

“This way the original data associated with the sample ‘carries interest’, if you like,” Jalava says.

The sample and its associated data can then be used in new research projects.

Germany showing interest

Collaboration with Auria Biobank has started well, says Jalava.

“They are highly professional, very competent and flexible, which makes it easy to work with them. They are also used to working in a global environment.”

It is still too early to say, however, whether this collaboration will speed up the development of new cancer drugs.

“But our smooth collaboration with Auria has aroused the interest of our German headquarters in other cancer research collaboration in Finland,” Jalava says.

Text: Leena Koskenlaakso