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Customer Spotlight: Supporting Drug Discovery & Development with CODEX

Sirona Dx is a Portland, Oregon-based technical contract research organization (CRO), which provides high-complexity genomics and proteomics services to pharmaceutical and biotech companies to support drug discovery and development in immuno-oncology. Sirona Dx recently brought the CODEX platform on board to support discovery research with single-cell, spatially resolved multiplex imaging.

To learn how the CRO is accelerating drug discovery and development, and how CODEX will help, we spoke to Andrew Brown, PhD, Chief Commercial Officer at Sirona Dx.

Tell us about your company – what kinds of projects does Sirona Dx specialize in?

Sirona Dx is a CLIA accredited, technology agnostic CRO. We focus primarily on supporting pharma and biotech clients with immunotherapy and targeted therapy programs where there is an acute need for multifaceted, high parameter single cell readouts from limited sample inputs to identify informative biomarker signatures.

Why did you decide to set up offices in Portland?

In Portland, we have easy access to the West Coast biotech hubs and there’s an incredible scientific talent pool right on our doorstep with OHSU in particular (Oregon Health & Sciences University). While not every member of our team lives in Portland, those who do will confess that Portland and Oregon in general is a fantastic place to call home. The incredible views across the Willamette River from our facility are also hard to beat and they change with the four seasons.

The view from the Sirona Dx office
What makes Sirona unique from other service providers?

One of the things that really differentiates us from other service providers is our deep relationships with life science tools developers. So rather than waiting for the finished platform we partner with life science tools providers early on to help develop the product. Our pharma clients benefit as they have early access to cutting edge technologies. It’s a win-win for all parties.

Tell us a little bit about your team and infrastructure and how you’re equipped to handle IO projects.

Over the last 4 years we’ve assembled an incredibly experienced and talented team from across the life science tools, diagnostics and pharma industries. We engage clients in a highly consultative manner to understand their unique requirements and then guide them to the most appropriate assays and platforms. Due to the complex nature of the underlying biology, the genomics and proteomics assays needed are typically extremely high-plex in nature. It’s here that the strength of our scientific and technical team really shines as we actively discuss content, perform assay development and optimization and then analyze the resultant big data readouts to glean meaningful insights.

Our suite of specialized genomics and proteomics services are purposely geared towards profiling the immune system and revealing the interplay with the tumor microenvironment, making us an ideal partner for clients developing immune therapeutics for cancer as well as autoimmune disorders, neurological and certain infectious diseases. With integrated, leading edge technologies, Sirona Dx can support comprehensive, multi-omic analysis in a way that is rarely seen in a single laboratory.

We are original pioneers in the area of multiplexed tissue imaging and provide comprehensive end-to-end solutions for spatially-resolved, highly multiplexed biomarker analysis.

Our CLIA accredited laboratory has the infrastructure and regulatory expertise to support global clinical trials enabling clients to remain with us as projects move beyond discovery and translational research.

Why did you decide to add ultra-high plex imaging on the CODEX platform to your services?

The CODEX platform was specifically requested by one of our pharma clients and allows us to study a very high number of markers in single tissue sample. It’s a fantastic tool for exploratory studies and discovery research providing spatial context with single-cell resolution, which is key for understanding the relationships between cells in the tumor microenvironment.

In comparison to other high plex imaging platforms, CODEX is also relatively low cost which will allow us to rapidly scale the infrastructure needed to align operations with ever increasing project demand.

The CODEX instrument in the Sirona Dx lab
What kinds of data analysis capabilities do you have to support high-plex data?

With these types of technologies, settling on content, optimizing the assay and generating the high parameter data is only half the battle. Next you need to make sense of it all. Fortunately, our bioinformatics team has been involved in the multiplex imaging space since the beginning and are able to interrogate big data to gain the insights our clients so desire.

How do you envision CODEX supporting those assay and biomarker development projects?

The CODEX system allows us to image 40 + protein biomarkers across whole tissue sections. The ability to generate multidimensional phenotypic maps of the tumor microenvironment with single-cell resolution while maintaining spatial context effectively takes biomarker discovery to the next level. This is massive, especially for our immunotherapy clients who recognize that simply assessing the presence or absence of specific molecules is insufficient to make informed clinical decisions.

Deciphering the complexities of the tissue microenvironment is key to understanding the molecular and cellular mechanisms driving disease as well as therapeutic responses and high plex imaging enables us to tackle this gap.

Having successfully integrated CODEX, we are now exploring Akoya’s Vectra system as this low to medium-parameter, high-throughput system will complement our extensive high parameter imaging services.

How can any interested researchers contact you about starting a CODEX project?

Well, you can reach us directly through our webpage at sironadx.com. We’re also available by email at info@sironadx.com . My cell phone is (503) 816-9692 if you prefer to call me directly. We will be in touch within 24h to schedule an introductory call with the team to learn more about your project requirements and discuss how we can support your programs. We look forward to hearing from you!

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