In This Issue...

Cornell Licenses Prostate Cancer Biomarker to Empire Genomics

Empire Genomics plans to create a molecular diagnostic test that could help diagnose and determine treatment for patients with neuroendocrine prostate cancer (NEPC). In the development of this test, Empire plans to use a patent pending novel genomic biomarker for which it has acquired an exclusive license from Cornell University. Though NEPC is one of the most aggressive forms of prostate cancer, there currently is no effective treatment for it, partly due to poor molecular characterization of the disease. According to Mark Rubin, MD, the director of Weill Cornell Medical College's Institute for Precision Medicine, Empire's test could help change this. He said, "This clinical tool will be important as we move forward with precision medicine clinical trials for aggressive castration-resistant prostate cancer."

BioHelix Acquired by Quidel

Quidel recently purchased BioHelix Corporation for more than $10 million in cash. This follows a research and development collaboration between the two companies in October 2009, under which they co-developed several hand-held, disposable molecular assays using BioHelix's proprietary isothermal helicase dependent amplification (HDA) technology. "The collaboration between BioHelix and Quidel has been effective and productive. Further, with the launch of AmpliVue C. difficile, we have demonstrated customer receptivity to a hand-held, disposable molecular platform, which gives us confidence that this additional investment in BioHelix and its isothermal amplification technology is warranted," said Douglas Bryant, president and chief executive officer of Quidel. Now that BioHelix is a wholly owned subsidiary of Quidel, the two plan to accelerate the development of Quidel's AmpliVue isothermal assays and lower the associated manufacturing costs.

Quest Buys Concentra Lab and Toxicology Services

Quest has acquired the Advanced Toxicology Network laboratory business of Concentra, a subsidiary of Humana. In addition, Quest signed a deal to become Concentra's primary provider of workplace drug toxicology and clinical laboratory testing. "With this transaction, Concentra's patients, physicians, and employer clients will gain access to Quest's industry-leading menu of innovative workplace drug and clinical lab diagnostic information services," said Steve Rusckowski, president and chief executive officer of Quest. This marks the third time since the start of 2013 that Quest has acquired or announced plans to acquire a laboratory business.

Arno Therapeutics, Veridex to Develop Anti-Progestin Co-Diagnostic

Arno Therapeutics and Veridex have joined forces to develop a diagnostic test to detect the presence of activated progesterone receptors, a potential biomarker of anti-progestin activity in circulating tumor cells. The terms of the collaboration will allow Arno to use Veridex's proprietary technology, Cellsearch, for this purpose. The resulting test will help single out patients with solid tumors who are most likely to respond to treatment with anti-progestins, including one that Arno is currently developing named onapristone.

Qiagen Enters Two Licensing Agreements for Cancer Biomarkers

Qiagen has expanded its portfolio of potential genomics-based companion diagnostics with the addition of promising new biomarkers for glioblastoma, lymphoma, and other cancers. Qiagen obtained the new biomarker for glioblastoma, FGFR-TACC fusion genes, through an exclusive worldwide licensing agreement with Columbia University. Qiagen also has signed an exclusive licensing deal with the BC Cancer Agency of Vancouver, British Columbia, for the lymphoma-related mutation biomarker, EZH2 Y641. Using these biomarkers, Qiagen plans to develop co-diagnostic tests that could help identify patients who might benefit from targeted glioblastoma and EZH2 treatments that major pharmaceutical companies are currently developing.