Hybritech Inc. has licensed a variant of Metra Biosystems Inc.'sbone marker to develop its own diagnostic for metabolic bonediseases.

Metra announced Tuesday that Hybritech will develop a testusing deoxypyridinoline (Dpd), one of several pyridiniumcollagen crosslinks that are released into the blood and urineduring bone resorption. Financial terms of the deal betweenHybritech, a subsidiary of Eli Lilly and Co., and Metra were notdisclosed.

According to Metra, the level of bone resorption is indicated bythe level of collagen degradation products in the urine.Pyridinoline collagen crosslinks join adjacent collagen fibers toachieve stabilization, Metra said. When bone is resorbed, thesecrosslinks are released in the urine.

Metra of Palo Alto, Calif., is developing bone diseasediagnostics. Its first product is the Pyrilinks assay, a polyclonalbased antibody to urinary pyridinoline crosslinks. Thecompany said clinical data has shown that a significant numberof patients with osteoporosis, Paget's disease and endocrinedisorders have elevated Pyrilinks values.

The Pyrilinks assay has been on the market in Europe for thepast year, and a 510 (k) for the assay is pending at FDA. It isthe only bone marker currently under review at the agency.Ostex International Inc. of Seattle is also developing a urinetest to measure bone resorption. The Pyrilinks test uses adifferent bone marker than the one Hybritech of San Diego willuse for its diagnostic.

Metra has joint development and distribution agreements withseveral companies, including Ciba Geigy Ltd., SumitomoPharmaceuticals Ltd. and Dianon Systems. -- Brenda Sandburg

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