BioWorld International Correspondent

LONDON The clinical genomics company Oxagen Ltd. formed a partnership with Insmed Inc., of Richmond, Va., to investigate the genetics of polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) and related metabolic disorders, including Type II diabetes.

The aim is to discover genes and polymorphisms that influence susceptibility to the syndrome and other disorders related to insulin resistance, as targets for drugs and diagnostics.

Insmed currently is conducting Phase III trials of INS-1 in the treatment of PCOS, and the collaboration will involve genetic analysis by Oxagen of blood samples from patients, and from controls who do not have PCOS. In addition to highlighting genes involved in the disease, the studies also may identify genes that are predictive of a drug response in PCOS patients.

Trevor Nicholls, Oxagen’s CEO, told BioWorld International, “The collection of samples for PCOS is not easy and this is why we are interested in a partnership with a company that is trialing a treatment for the disease.”

Oxagen, based in Abingdon, has a separate collaboration on PCOS with researchers at Imperial College in London, and Nicholls said getting more samples from patients with the condition would help validate existing data from this family study.

Insmed will have rights to develop drug targets for the prevention and treatment of PCOS. Oxagen has rights to diagnostic applications, including detection of predisposition to the disorder and prediction of response to therapy, and has the option to take co-drug development rights on targets.

“Given each partner will cover their own costs, this deal is not a major cash boost but it is significant in terms of how we see Oxagen developing and moving downstream, translating our technology into compounds in the clinic,” Nicholls said.

Apart from being a significant health problem itself, women who suffer from PCOS have a much higher incidence of Type II diabetes and cardiovascular disease later in life. “This means the genetics of PCOS is also interesting because some elements of the disease act as a surrogate for Type II diabetes,” Nicholls said.

Insmed is developing INS-1, an orally available small molecule, for both PCOS and Type II diabetes.