15th July 2021

Cancer Models Forum

6 most common challenges in finding the right cancer model

by Repositive

This blog post provides a summary of our recent presentation at the Oxford Global Immuno Week Conference. To watch the full presentation, click here.

There’s no doubt that drug discovery is hard:

  • Translation from preclinical to the clinic is notoriously low: ~95% failure in oncology drug discovery [1]
  • Drug discovery has begun to take a precision medicine approach and is becoming far more data driven with more specific requirements for each project
  • New approaches and technologies are constantly entering the market e.g. emergence of immuno-oncology, AI, data mining, etc.
  • In preclinical research, selection of CROs and research models is a critical part of the process

“Lack of validated preclinical models or an unclear disease linkage… was the most common reason that a drug failed to demonstrate clinical efficacy.” [2]

So what are the 6 most common challenges in finding the right cancer model?

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The consequences of getting it wrong

Pharma lose $18-240m in revenue per drug for each month of delay to market.” (Vinehealth, 2021)

  • First model or CRO might not be the best model – in-house CRO and model network might not provide the best picture of everything that is out there
  • Can lead to wasted time and resources and using out of date models and technology
  • Result: potentially successful projects don’t advance, or they fail completely

So what can you do about it?

Do any of these challenges sound familiar to you? We can help!

At Repositive, our mission is focused on supporting the biopharma community through simplifying the search for the right CRO, models and services, and ultimately accelerating the cancer drug discovery process.

We provide this through our cost-effective Cancer Model Scout offering, a bespoke cancer model search service that is conducted by our expert bioinformaticians, based on the criteria you provide us. Results are typically returned to clients within 2-4 weeks in a data-rich report, identifying high-matching models from within our extended CRO network.

Benefits of using the Cancer Model Scout service:

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Click here to download a sample report of our Cancer Model Scout service.

Case study: Cancer Model Scout unblocks 2 years of study delay

A top 20 biopharma researcher was looking for a PDX model with a known genomic rearrangement, indicating a Non-Small Cell Lung cancer. They had been searching without success for over 2 years. We were able to find the model of interest in under 4 weeks, and connect the researcher to the right CRO, allowing them to proceed in setting up a study and unblocking 2 years of delay!

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Check out our Model Overview to learn more about the models and services we can connect you with. Also includes exclusive insight into the top 6 primary sites we have in our in-house model inventory.

The Cancer Model Scout in numbers

We have spent years delivering our service to biopharma clients and building up our cancer model network and capabilities, meaning we can be confident we are delivering value.

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Want to test out our service?

We are currently offering all new Repositive customers the opportunity to trial our service, with the option of then purchasing a subscription with a 10% discount. Click to learn more about our special offer or book a meeting with our team to chat about how we might be able to support your needs.


[1] Moreno, L. & Pearson, A. D. How can attrition rates be reduced in cancer drug discovery? Expert Opin. Drug Disco. 8, 363–368 (2013).​

[2] Cook, D., Brown, D., Alexander, R., March, R., Morgan, P., Satterthwaite G. et al. Lessons learned from the fate of AstraZeneca’s drug pipeline: a five-dimensional framework. Nat. Rev. Drug Discov. 13, 419–431 (2014)​

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