Durham’s GeneCentric Diagnostics has received an undisclosed sum of equity funding for a biomarker research collaboration with pharmaceutical giant Bristol-Myers Squibb.

Neither side has disclosed exact financial terms of the agreement, but they said the BMY money will support the clinical development of GeneCentric’s proprietary Cancer Subtype Platform (CSP) product and the build-out of the company’s new Durham laboratory.

BMY wants to explore whether the application of GeneCentric’s proprietary Cancer Subtype Platform (CSP) might be able to identify certain proteins that can be biological warning beacons – known as biomarkers. The New York-based global pharmaceutical company wants to explore the feature for more targeted clinical trials involving its anti-cancer immune therapy Opdivo (nivolumab).

“We are very excited to have Bristol-Myers Squibb as both a collaboration partner and an investor in GeneCentric,” said Myla Lai-Goldman, M.D., CEO of GeneCentric. “Bristol-Myers Squibb is an industry leader in oncology, and we look forward to engaging with them to advance research that may benefit patient prognosis.”

GeneCentric is a privately held 2011 precision medicine spin-out from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Its current roster of five employees, to be expanded through early 2017, is developing and commercializing CSP to redefine the advanced classification of cancers. By defining subtypes of cancer, CSP can better enable drug developers to predict patients’ responses to therapies.

In addition to Bristol-Myers Squibb, its investors include Hatteras Venture Partners and Laboratory Corporation of America.

“GeneCentric’s innovative approach to cancer biomarkers offers an opportunity to accelerate translational and exploratory biomarker research, with the potential to optimize assays that can better inform decisions about patient care and treatments,” said Fouad Namouni, M.D., head of development, oncology for Bristol-Myers Squibb.

“We are very pleased to support GeneCentric’s long-term goals as a company and to explore the application of its technology towards more targeted approaches to help patients.”

(C) N.C. Biotechnology Center