I would like to thank Craig for being the inspirational basis for this post, and also supplying lots of the content.
The Mouse Trap
For Craig, our Marketing Manager, Mouse Trap was a favourite game of his growing up! Apparently, he would spend hours playing it.
In fact, I would often just set it up just to turn the crank and set off the chain reaction to trap a mouse. Those times were filled with tantrums after losing. Like many, I have a competitive streak. Losing the game would just be losing a bit of pride, which is a big deal for a 8 year old.
Fast forward 25 years. He is 33, working for a software company called Repositive who is creating a platform for researchers to find and access human genomic data. Life may not be as simple, but he still likes board games! We have frequently polished off a bottle of wine over a game of Saboteur.
All businesses play a game against their competitors. Business is built on supply and demand and pharmaceutical companies are no different. Yes, there is less dice throwing, but they are on the same board as other players, similar goals and mostly the same path to success. This also applies to oncology research, and of course, keeping on topic, PDX models. Pharma companies are looking for the next breakthrough, using tumour models to drive breakthroughs and gain an understanding of cancer, which can support diagnosis and treatments. This PDX game takes substantially longer than a afternoon, but pharma still moves across the board, taking steps toward their goals. Most start with data and a hypothesis they want to validate. This is where PDX models and there associated data come into play.
Patient-derived xenograft models are extremely valuable, and subsequently, working with them isn't cheap. Creating these models requires skill, patience and specialised equipment. In fact, there are many businesses built just on generating and selling these models.
Most pharma have relationships with known and preferred PDX model vendors. Although it is 2017, most pharma simply email all the vendors they have agreements with at once asking for a particular PDX model. They then wait to see who has relevant models. Then they dig a bit further into the characteristics of this model. And again, they wait. Each time they hope to find the model they want.
What if the PDX model does not exist? Well, some pharma have the capital to pay for someone to create the model for them or generate it themselves. This is far more expensive and time-consuming than working with a model that already exists. So before they spend this money, they want to be sure that the model they want doesn't already exist.
It's clear that there is a lot of time and investment spent by pharma in using PDX models to power oncology research. So, losing this game is more than just getting trapped with the cheese and losing some pride. Losing the game means losing all the time and money invested.
Powering research with data is exactly the mission of Repositive. PDX models are simply another form of data. Thus the discoverability of PDX models which are already out there, is exactly the sort of problem we want to solve.
The PDX Platform
The idea is simple, although the execution is not. Access to PDX models from multiple vendors is pre-competitive. Bringing PDX models from multiple vendors into one portal enables data consumers to discover models available from several vendors, including models from vendors they did not know existed. Improving the discoverability of model data, simplifying finding models with the right specifications, and managing one's inventory of models internally are some of the founding principles the PDX platform will be built on.
Advantages for pharma companies
Shortening data discovery workflows for an employee can save them hours. Across your business, this saving is amplified and results in massive time and money savings.
Discovering new PDX vendors you never knew existed.
Having a centralised place to find, access and qualify PDX models across teams, makes for efficient use of time and aids collaboration and reuse of data and resources.
Feel more confident that the PDX models you want do not exist before you consider funding the creation of a new model.
Advantages for PDX vendors
Showcase your specialised expertise to more users and potential customers and give visibility to your unique selling propositions.
Efficiently manage your inventory and customer enquiries through one interface and spend more time and resources on creating new models in demand.
Gather anonymised statistics and analytics. These stats will provide market insights to identify gaps in the market and gauge the popularity of different models.
Get instant visibility of new models.
The PDX Consortium
Repositive is coordinating a consortium of partners to implement a centralised resource for PDX model data discovery. The consortium promises numerous benefits to PDX users and PDX vendors. All partners have the opportunity to influence the design of the product from its inception to meet their specific needs.
A game we all win!
The PDX game is not just for data consumers and data providers. The Repositive mission extends beyond this. It is our mission to help researchers to help patients, faster. Better discoverability and access to PDX models will ultimately benefit patients by supporting better diagnosis and treatments.
So you see, we can all play the game and we can all get a slice of the cheese!