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A rock-solid partnership
April 2012
by Kelsey Kaustinen  |  Email the author


GILBERTSVILLE, Pa.Rockland Immunochemicals recently announced the release of 95 antibodies as a result of a partnership with the National Cancer Institute (NCI). The antibodies, which are involved in signal transduction and cancer research, were developed in conjunction with the NCI's Center for Cancer Research (CCR).  
"These Rockland antibodies are of high interest for the cancer research community broadly and are important tools to the advance of promising cancer research, diagnostics and therapies," says Richard Smith, chief operating officer at Rockland. "Rockland is intent on continuously enhancing our portfolio of highly characterized antibodies and other reagents critical to the life sciences."  
The partnership between Rockland and the CCR began in 2005 for the development of rabbit polyclonal antibodies "against key phospho and non-phosphoproteins implicated in cancer," according to the website of the Office of Science and Technology Partnerships of the CCR. An amendment was added in 2011 that also includes the development of mouse monoclonal antibodies. Dr. Shoshana Segal, assistant director for technology development in the Office of Science and Technology Partnerships, says the organization was introduced to Rockland by the leader of one of its core facilities, which had been engaged with Rockland in a fee-for-service agreement.  
"When we first met with Rockland and presented our partnership plan, they showed enthusiasm for working with our scientists regardless of their investment," says Segal. "The company recognized the benefit of working with thought leaders in cancer research. Our scientists know the most important antigens to target for antibody development. Furthermore, our laboratories possess a wide variety of model systems, which are ideally suited for testing and validating the quality and usability of the antibodies.
"We are now seven years down the road, and the relationship is still going strong," she adds. "It has been a great opportunity for our investigators to work with Rockland scientists and have their desired antibodies developed."
According to Segal, Rockland has successfully developed and delivered to investigators 80 antibodies, a majority of which have been marketed, and 40 others are at different stages of development.  
"Rockland's antibody technology platform continues to be widely received by the research and biopharma community," James Fendrick, CEO of Rockland, said in a press release. "We anticipate continued success in our antibody efforts with NCI to discover and develop both novel and existing antibody targets that have broad application in the life-science markets."  
Rockland's antibody work spans a variety of indications, including cancer, immunology, cardiovascular, neuroscience, stem cells and developmental biology. Antibodies have gained significant popularity in the field of cancer in particular, and Smith notes, "the commercial potential is tremendous."  
"Today, many drugs approved for release are large-molecule therapeutics composed of antibodies. These biologics, along with small-molecule drugs, create a need and demand for companion diagnostics whose foundation is also antibody-based. Antibodies are critical to diagnostics and therapies that will make affordable, personalized cancer care possible," he adds. "More precise delivery of cancer therapies both increases the quality of care and enhances cost management."
Smith notes that Rockland is currently involved in more than 25 collaborations in addition to the NCI agreement. Its other partners include Scripps Research Institute, NYU Langone Medical Center, Emory University and Lankenau Institute for Medical Research. He says the company is a strong believer in collaborations, and is "in active discussion" with other organizations in both academia and industry.
"The pace of scientific discovery will be set by organizations that form partnerships to build a better understanding of the disease process. Financial necessity is the mother of collaboration today," Smith states. "But, more importantly, the combination of academic and industrial know-how forges sheer brilliance and entrepreneurial spirit into a single potent force. Those leaders who capture and combine effectively the mindshare of top scientists and entrepreneurs will deliver results at a higher rate. Simply, these partnerships encourage worthy innovation and exacting financial discipline that together produce commercially sustainable scientific achievement."
  Emory University lib/modules/linktrack.php? url=   Lankenau Institute for Medical Research lib/modules/linktrack.php?url=
Code: E041211



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