A Diagnostics & Imaging Week

Gen-Probe (San Diego) has licensed technology from AdnaGen (Hanover, Germany) that may help increase the accuracy of molecular diagnostic tests to detect prostate and other cancers, help determine the aggressiveness of these malignancies, and monitor responses to therapy.

AdnaGen's technology is designed to enable detection of rare, circulating tumor cells that are an early event in cancer metastasis. This is accomplished through two steps that combine the benefits of immunoassay and nucleic acid testing.

First, cancerous cells are isolated from healthy cells using a mixture of specific monoclonal antibodies linked to magnetic particles. Second, the RNA inside the captured cells is released and amplified to identify expressed genes that are markers for specific cancers. This combination of technologies increases both the sensitivity and specificity of cancer cell detection in body fluids such as blood and urine.

"This agreement with AdnaGen gives Gen-Probe access to innovative technology that supports our long-term strategy to become a leader in cancer diagnostics," said Henry Nordhoff, chairman, president and CEO of Gen-Probe. "We believe our PCA3 prostate cancer test could be a breakthrough based solely on our current technology platform, but incorporating AdnaGen's innovative technology into a combination product could yield markedly improved sensitivity and specificity, as well as greater prognostic value."

He said his company also expects to apply AdnaGen's technology to future assays for other cancers.

Under the terms of the agreement, Gen-Probe will gain exclusive access to AdnaGen technology for molecular diagnostic tests for prostate and bladder cancers. Gen-Probe will pay AdnaGen license fees of $1 million within 30 days of signing, and $750,000 in the first quarter of 2006 or upon patent issuance, whichever comes later.

Gen-Probe also may pay AdnaGen three milestones totaling an additional $2.25 million based on certain regulatory and commercial events. It also will pay AdnaGen royalties on sales of any products developed using that company's technology.

Gen-Probe retains options to obtain exclusive licenses to use AdnaGen's technology in molecular diagnostic tests for kidney, ovarian and cervical cancer. If Gen-Probe exercises these options, the company would pay AdnaGen $250,000 for each additional cancer product.

In addition, Gen-Probe retains a three-year right of first refusal to negotiate with AdnaGen on exclusive rights to molecular diagnostic tests for breast, colon and lung cancers.

"By combining our technological advancement in tumor diagnostics with Gen-Probe's impressive track record of successfully taking innovative products to the market, we believe that the cooperation between [the companies] is very likely to become a success," said Winfried Albert, chief operating officer and chief scientific officer of AdnaGen. "The joined expertise will facilitate a speedy adaptation of AdnaGen's technology onto Gen-Probe's technology platform as well as a timely introduction of the novel tumor diagnostics."

"This agreement will also contribute to the credibility of AdnaGen's technology with potential new investors," added Axel Deuring, the company's CFO.

IDS names distributor for Poland

Imaging Diagnostic Systems (IDS; Fort Lauderdale, Florida) reported that EDO-MED has been appointed its exclusive distributor in Poland. The company will market and service the IDS CT Laser Mammography (CTLM) as an adjunct to mammography procedures to provide more information prior to recommending patients for biopsies.

Janusz Ostrowski, IDS' international sales vice president, called Poland "an important market for CTLM and one that is very concerned about improving breast cancer detection methods. EDO-MED is established in the functional imaging and oncology market and sees great potential for our product."

Jaroslaw Borkulak, president of EDO-MED, said, "The opportunity for seeing the angiogenesis processes associated with breast cancer is a first. This technology well complements our product basket of innovating molecular and functional imaging products. Also, the research to be conducted at the Cancer Institute in Gliwice will help establish this CTLM approach within Poland and elsewhere."

The CTLM system is a painless breast imaging system that using laser technology to create 3-D cross-sectional images of the breast. It does not expose the patient to radiation or require breast compression. IDS is seeking premarket approval from the FDA for use of the system as an adjunct to mammography.

MorphoSys, Schering extend collaboration

MorphoSys AG (Martinsried, Germany) extended its collaboration with Schering AG (Berlin) to develop antibody therapeutics and in vivo diagnostics. Originally signed in December 2001, the collaboration will be extended at least until the end of 2006, with the option of a further extension period of one year.

MorphoSys receives annual license fees under the revised contract, funding for a team of scientists and royalties and milestone payments. Schering receives access to MorphoSys's HuCAL GOLD technology and exclusive commercial licenses for several collaborative programs.

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