Washington Editor

Beyond Genomics Inc. will use its Systems Biology approach to identify biomarkers and drug targets for the treatment and diagnosis of colon, breast and ovarian cancer in a deal signed with DiaDexus Inc.

Using its Systems Biology technology, Beyond Genomics (BG), of Waltham, Mass., has the ability to quickly analyze clinically relevant samples and integrate data at the gene, protein and metabolite levels. BG also will use its proprietary pattern recognition, clustering and data-mining software (BioSystematics) to integrate and analyze the data.

Officials at DiaDexus Inc., of South San Francisco, said the company remains in a quiet period and they could not comment. DiaDexus filed for an initial public offering with proceeds estimated at $100 million in November 2000. (See BioWorld Today, Nov. 22, 2000.)

However, Ronald Lindsay, vice president, research and development, and chief science officer at DiaDexus, released a prepared statement saying, “This collaboration moves DiaDexus beyond genomics into protein expression profiling with a focus on identifying lead targets for development of diagnostic and therapeutic products for cancer. We believe that Beyond Genomics’ unique platform expression profiling complements our genomic profiling techniques and has the potential to identify, directly at the protein level, new markers and targets that may ultimately lead to earlier diagnosis and better treatment of cancers.”

Representatives of BG could not be reached for comment, but company President Stephen Ober released a prepared statement saying he’s pleased to be working with DiaDexus. “This agreement gives BG the opportunity to bring its uniquely powerful Systems Biology discovery platform to yet another major therapeutic area cancer.”

BG, a fairly young company founded in November 2000, currently uses its technology to focus on Alzheimer’s disease and atherosclerosis.

The company has a deal with Dublin, Ireland-based Elan Corp. plc to identify biomarkers and drug targets useful in the diagnosis and treatment of Alzheimer’s disease. Although that deal brought BG a $5 million investment from Elan, neither BG nor DiaDexus would release detailed information about financial terms of their deal.

A prepared statement said DiaDexus made an equity investment in BG and will provide research funding for the program. Also, the agreement provides for milestone and royalty payments on products resulting from the research.

Just last week, BG raised $11 million in its second round of financing. Since its inception, $21 million has been invested in the company, including $5 million from Elan. (See BioWorld Today, Feb. 15, 2002.)

While DiaDexus hasn’t completed its IPO, nearly two years ago the company raised $102 million in a Series C private placement of preferred stock (See BioWorld Today, April 12, 2000.)

DiaDexus focuses on translating raw genomics into novel diagnostic and therapeutic products. Formed in 1997, its primary investors were SmithKline Beecham plc, of London, and Incyte Genomics Inc., of Palo Alto, Calif. Today SmithKline and Incyte own about 20 percent each of DiaDexus. (See BioWorld Today, Sept. 4, 1997.)

DiaDexus has an agreement with Compugen Ltd., of Tel Aviv, Israel, aimed at accelerating DiaDexus’ ability to identify and validate diagnostic markers and therapeutic targets based on Compugen’s computational biology analysis of genomic and proteomic databases. In another agreement, DiaDexus is working with Fujirebio Inc., of Tokyo, to develop and sell cancer diagnostic tests in Japan.

DiaDexus has three diagnostic products in late-stage clinical development: Cathepsin-K, a diagnostic marker for osteoporosis; Lp-PLA2 (PLAC Test), for coronary heart disease; and Colon-101, for colon cancer detection. Both the PLAC Test and Cathepsin-K likely will be available as homebrew tests this year. Colon-101 is expected to be ready for homebrew next year.