Oncor Inc. has agreed to pay Johns Hopkins University $1.5 millionover the next three years to develop and market test kits to detectbladder, colon and lung cancers based on technology devised by theschool's researchers.Stephen Turner, chairman of the Gaithersburg, Md.-based Oncor,told BioWorld tests for bladder and cervical cancers will beavailable to physicians in one year. The lung cancer test will bedeveloped in the second year of the research collaboration withBaltimore-based Johns Hopkins.Turner added that Oncor, which is developing the diagnosticsthrough its subsidiary, OncorMed Inc., also of Gaithersburg,expects to file its first FDA market application for the tests withintwo or three years.OncorMed has been conducting clinical evaluations of the cancertests since it was formed in 1993. The company went public inJune, raising $6.5 million. Oncor owns approximately 50 percent ofOncorMed.The cancer tests, developed by David Sidransky of Hopkins' headand neck cancer research department, are OncorMed's flagshipproducts. Hopkins will receive royalties on any product sales."The tests," Turner said, "are a very practical technology that maybe universally applicable to cancers."A diagnostic based on discovery of a cancer gene, he said, is limitedto detecting a specific subset of cancer that is usually inherited."Most cancers are not inherited," Turner added. "What [Sidransky]has discovered is a repetitive DNA sequence, which acts as agenetic marker for tumor cells. It bypasses the need to identify allcancer genes."If the test kits are approved for bladder, colon and lung cancers,Turner said additional clinical evaluations of tests for other forms ofcancer will be conducted.Oncor's stock (NASDAQ:ONCR) closed Wednesday at $6.12, up12 cents, while OncorMed (NASDAQ:ONCM) was down 12 centsto $7.62. _ Charles Craig
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