Metamark dives into cancer biomarkers
February 2011
by Kimberley Sirk  |  Email the author

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CAMBRIDGE, Mass.—A multiyear licensing agreement was signed in late December by Metamark Genetics Inc., a privately held oncology-focused molecular diagnostics company, and HistoRx Inc., a diagnostics company developing tissue-based diagnostic solutions to advance individualized patient care.

HistoRx has granted Metamark a worldwide license to HistoRx's AQUA technology for the clinical commercialization of Metamark's proprietary MetamarkDx Prognostic Assays.

AQUA is an acronym for automated quantitative analysis. This immunohistochemistry analytic technology utilizes fluorescence-labeled antibodies and molecular markers to maximize dynamic range and sensitivity, the foundation for computing an AQUA score. AQUA scores enable quantitative assessment of protein biomarkers in fixed tissue, which can then be correlated with other parameters such as disease progression, clinical outcome, response to therapy or expression of proteins in alternate pathways.

HistoRx says that its AQUA technology is the only platform capable of precisely measuring protein biomarker concentration with subcellular resolution in tissue sections.

The pact with Metamark is one of several HistoRx inked in 2010. The company was also awarded a patent last year for this method of quantifying biomarkers.

For the past several years, the companies say, Metamark has teamed with HistoRx for research work in support of Metamark's diagnostic assays based on HistoRx's proprietary AQUA technology.

The two companies had been working to achieve key validation milestones prior to finalizing this agreement.

"We are delighted to be working with HistoRx and are eager to develop and validate clinical diagnostics for key biomarkers using the AQUA technology, and to ultimately commercialize them for the benefit of patients around the world," said Mark Straley, president and CEO of Metamark, in a prepared statement. "Metamark's powerful Prognosis Determinants technology, and the multimarker assay panels developed from it, requires objective and reproducible quantitative measurement of protein biomarkers—something specifically enabled by HistoRx's AQUA technology."

Metamark's MetamarkDx Prognostic Assays will evaluate the molecular profile of an individual patient's tumor through quantitative expression analysis of Metamark's proprietary Prognosis Determinants. This will enable the identification of those early stage cancers that are genetically hardwired for lethal spread, as well as those that are less aggressive, thus arming physicians with critical insight to be able to guide their patients towards more personalized treatment strategies.

The licensed portfolio includes assays performed using HistoRx's proprietary technology for analysis of fluorescent immunohistochemistry, enabling quantitative assessment of specific biomarkers for patients with certain solid tumors.

"Metamark's unique approach to investigating the drivers of cancer development and metastasis has tremendous potential for changing the face of these diseases," said Rana K. Gupta, CEO of HistoRx, in a prepared statement. "We are pleased to see the ways that AQUA technology and the collaboration between HistoRx scientists and the Metamark team have led to significant progress towards this goal."
Metamark representatives did not respond to repeated requests for comment by press time, and HistoRx representatives were unavailable for comment.

Metamark is a privately held oncology company focused on the development of function-based prognostic assays for early stage cancers. The MetamarkDx Prognostic Assays under development are based on Metamark's proprietary Prognosis Determinants, genes discovered through leading edge cancer research and demonstrated to play a causal role in promoting tumor progression and spread.

HistoRx Inc. develops tissue- based diagnostic solutions to advance individualized patient care. The company's products and services are based on proprietary analysis of tissue biomarkers using AQUA technology. HistoRx is commercializing a pipeline of proprietary diagnostic products targeting improved treatment decision-making and patient outcomes in cancer care. The technology has shown promise recently in breast cancer. It is located in Connecticut.
 
Code: E021115

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