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Moving to multicenter
BILLERICA, Mass.—Aushon BioSystems Inc., a provider of multiplex immunoassay products and services, has signed a letter of intent to enter into a diagnostic development collaboration with Peking University Cancer Hospital (PUCH) in Beijing, China.
The primary goal of the collaboration is to develop predictive diagnostic markers for liver metastases of colorectal cancer utilizing Aushon's proprietary suite of protein biomarker detection technologies and stratification biomarkers for radio-chemotherapy patients. As part of the deal, PUCH and Aushon will negotiate an agreement to grant Aushon exclusive rights In North America and Europe to certain intellectual property generated from the collaboration.
Aushon serves "nearly all of the leading pharmaceutical companies," notes Joe Blanchard, the company's COO, and he adds that these relationships were key to the decision to collaborate with PUCH.
"Increasingly, multicenter trials include Asia and our pharma clients had need for assistance. They urged us to form Asian relationships," Blanchard says.
Aushon's sample testing service has a menu of more than 300 protein biomarkers and its high-throughput CLIA-certified lab tests "tens of thousands of patient samples annually," according to Blanchard. Aushon also recently announced its partnership with LightArray Biotech, a drug development service company located in Wuxi, China, which will enable Aushon to provide its multiplex biomarker products and services to pharmaceutical clients in China.
The PUCH research will be conducted under the leadership of Dr. Jin Gu of PUCH. Prof. Gu is a well-known expert and clinician on colorectal cancer and liver metastasis. He leads a team of scientists and physicians investigating the mechanisms of colorectal cancer metastasis including the identification of biomarkers to predict which patients may develop metastatic disease in the liver. Gu has established a large library of patient samples, as well as extensive clinical and post-surgery follow-up data that he and his staff have accumulated over the past several years. From 2000 to 2007, PUCH completed 76 clinical trials, of which 52 were domestic clinical trials, 10 international multicenter clinical trials and 14 clinical trials for medical equipment. There are currently 35 domestic clinical trials, 11 international multicenter clinical trials and four clinical trials for medical equipment taking place at PUCH.
"We look forward to the opportunity to collaborate with Aushon on this critical clinical research program," says Gu. "Aushon's technology has already received widespread market acceptance with leading pharmaceutical companies due to its proven reliability and performance in late-stage clinical trials, and has the key attributes we identified for a multiplex diagnostic platform. We are very optimistic that this partnership will lead to the discovery and development of predictive diagnostic markers for primary colorectal cancer metastases in liver, and establishment of new treatment strategies to improve outcomes for our patients."
"We believe Aushon's technology and expertise are ideally suited for this diagnostic development program and expect that this will be the first of several such technical collaborations with PUCH and other leading research institutions in Asia," Blanchard adds. He estimates the U.S. oncology protein biomarker market at more than $300 million, with the worldwide market at about $650 million and annual growth at 17 percent.
The Aushon-PUCH collaboration was facilitated by the U.S. Chinese Anti-Cancer Association (USCACA) whose director, Li Yan, has known Blanchard for several years.
"When Li contacted me about this potential collaboration, we were fortunate we already had the relationship with LightArray in place. Based on the trends we've seen and the investments pharmaceutical companies are making in China, we expect this region to become an increasingly important market for Aushon," Blanchard says.