March 2009: Volume 35, Number 3
Abraxis Creates Personalized Medicine Company
Abraxis BioScience announced that its board of directors has approved a plan to create Abraxis Health, a standalone company that will operate in the personalized medicine arena, focusing on the identification of genetic biomarkers. "In 2009, we plan to initiate nine pivotal registrational trials in multiple tumor types, including breast cancer, lung, melanoma, and pancreatic cancers. In addition, Abraxis has initiated 65 investigator-sponsored Phase II studies and 16 Phase I studies,” stated Abraxis BioScience CEO Patrick Soon-Shiong, MD. The split will also allow Abraxis BioScience to concentrate on the development of the cancer drug Abraxane, which has been approved to treat breast cancer and is currently in trials for different types of tumors.
Epigenomics, Sysmex Agree to Cancer Diagnostics Pact
Epigenomics and Sysmex have announced that they have entered into a collaboration aimed at developing a molecular diagnostics assay for cancer. Together the companies will evaluate Sysmex’s molecular diagnostics instrumentation for detecting DNA methylation cancer biomarkers in blood using Epigenomics’ mSEPT9 Methylation Detection Assay. Sysmex will have access to technology owned by Epi-genomics through licenses and technology transfer, as well as research and development support. Epigenomics will receive license fees, research and development funding, and will sell its mSEPT9 assay to Sysmex. The two firms have also entered negotiations for Sysmex to take a non-exclusive license to mSEPT9.
Lenetix to Co-Market CombiMatrix Tests
CombiMatrix has entered into an agreement allowing Lenetix the rights to co-market its array of comparative genomic hybridization (CGH)-based tests. The agreement focuses on CombiMatrix’s suite of arrays for genetic conditions, primarily its BAC HD Scant test that identifies more than 290 genomic causes of developmental disorders. The collaboration also includes CombiMatrix’s Prenatal Scan array CGH test, specifically designed for prenatal diagnostics. Financial terms of the co-marketing pact were not disclosed.
Sequenom to Acquire Assets from SensiGen
Sequenom has signed an agreement with SensiGen to acquire a portfolio of AttoSense genetic tests in exchange for $8.7 million in cash and stock. Sequenom will acquire all of SensiGen’s currently developed assays, including the AttoSense HPV-G and HPV-Q tests for cervical cancer, AttoSense HPV-C for head and neck cancer, AttoSense Kidney Test, and the EpiSense Lupus Panel, as well as other assets and intellectual property rights. Sequenom plans to market the AttoSense tests through the Sequenom Center for Molecular Medicine and is considering selling the tests as in vitro diagnostics. The two firms originally collaborated in 2007 on the development of assays for the MassArray platform.
Artemis Licenses Prenatal Diagnostic Technology from Stanford
Artemis has licensed co-exclusive worldwide rights from Stanford University to develop cell-free fetal DNA prenatal diagnostic tests. The tests, developed by Stephen Quake, a professor of bioengineering at Stanford, will allow Artemis to expand its clinical and research program to develop a non-invasive prenatal blood test that predicts chromosomal and genetic disorders. The license from Stanford covers the use of digital PCR and shotgun sequencing to analyze cell-free fetal DNA from maternal blood, particularly for fetal genetic disorders such as Down syndrome, Edwards syndrome, and Patau syndrome.