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Abcodia Licenses the ‘Risk of Ovarian Cancer Algorithm’ (ROCA) Developed at Massachusetts General Hospital and Queen Mary, University of London

Abcodia, the biomarker validation company with a focus on screening for cancer, today announced that it has entered into an agreement for an exclusive world-wide commercial license to the Risk of Ovarian Cancer Algorithm (ROCA) developed at Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) and Queen Mary, University of London.

ROCA has the potential to be a major breakthrough for the early diagnosis of ovarian cancer. The diagnosis of ovarian cancer is usually made when the disease has spread outside the ovaries and as a result the outcome is poor. In the 80% of cases of ovarian cancer in which diagnosis occurs in the later stages, the 5-year survival rate is less than 20%. If diagnosed early, 5-year survival exceeds 85%. Hence the need for early diagnosis, in the hope that current treatments will be more effective. Around the world, an estimated 200,000 new cases of ovarian cancer are diagnosed in women each year and there are over 125,000 deaths.

ROCA is a test being validated for the screening of ovarian cancer. It was invented by Professor Ian Jacobs, Dean & Head School of Medicine, Faculty of Medical & Human Sciences, University of Manchester, and formerly of Queen Mary, University of London, and Dr Steven Skates of the Biostatistics Center, MGH, who together studied longitudinal patterns of CA125 in multiple cohorts of post-menopausal women to develop a statistical algorithm efficiently combining information in age and serial CA125 levels. ROCA has since shown excellent specificity, Positive Predictive Value (PPV) and sensitivity in large studies including UKCTOCS (UK Collaborative Trial of Ovarian Cancer Screening) and UKFOCSS (UK Familial Ovarian Cancer Screening Study).

A recent study by the MD Anderson Cancer Center in normal risk postmenopausal women reported a specificity of 99.9% and a PPV of 40% for ROCA when ultrasound was used as a secondary test. This confirms, in a USA population, results previously reported by the larger UKCTOCS trial involving 202,000 normal risk postmenopausal women. The published results from UKCTOCS2 indicate that, as well as achieving high specificity and PPV, ROCA can achieve a sensitivity of 89% for screen detection of ovarian cancer. UKCTOCS is a randomised trial comparing screening with standard care, and in 2015 will provide results on the impact of screening with ROCA on mortality and survival from ovarian cancer. The final data from UKCTOCS will be of great importance in guiding future clinical use of the ROCA in clinical practice.

Commenting on the recent MD Anderson publication, Professor Ian Jacobs, also Director of the UKCTOCS trial, said: “I am delighted to see the outcome of the MD Anderson 11 year study. The results reassuringly confirm in a USA setting those reported from the UKCTOCS prevalence study published in 2009. We now await further data from UKCTOCS in 2015 to establish whether the encouraging specificity and sensitivity data translate into improvements in survival and mortality which through early detection can help women affected by ovarian cancer.”

Dr Julie Barnes, Abcodia’s CEO, said: “The licensing of ROCA is a significant opportunity for Abcodia and we now intend to work with the co-founders to actively plan a commercialisation path that will in due course enable ROCA to be made available to women in Europe, US and around the world. We are currently in active discussions with partners in different territories to support our mission. Based on the reports to date, and in particular the sensitivity, specificity and PPV data, we will begin to explore ways in which the ROCA could be implemented in clinical practice. The eventual clinical use will of course be informed and guided by the outcome of UKCTOCS and other clinical trials.”

Source: Abcodia

IMDEA Food and Metabolon, Inc. Announce Strategic Collaboration to Advance Nutrition-based Personalized Medicine

IMDEA Food, a Translational Research Institute from the Community of Madrid, dedicated to investigating the relationships among nutrition, food and health, and the US-based company Metabolon Inc., the pioneering leader in the field of metabolomics and molecular diagnostics serving the pharmaceutical and food industries, recently announced an ambitious collaboration program. The agreement, signed in Madrid by Dr. John Ryals, President and CEO of Metabolon, and Dr. Guillermo Reglero, Director of IMDEA Food, establishes the framework for future strategic projects aimed to develop functional foods and diagnostic tools.

Of particular interest are the prevention of prevalent chronic diseases with high societal impact, such as cardiovascular disease, cancer, obesity and neurological diseases, which are highly dependent on understanding food science and nutritional impact. To achieve this goal, individual in-depth studies to characterize the molecular mechanisms underlying the health benefits of foods and food components are needed.

“These studies promise to lead toward an efficient decrease of morbimortality due to chronic degenerative diseases and a better quality of life. IMDEA Food and Metabolon will combine their knowledge to advance towards this objective. A combined functional genomics and metabolomics approach involving complementary technologies and multidisciplinary expertise is paramount to achieve the scientific rigor and level of evidence required to bring nutrition-based personalized medicine to the public with the final objective of living longer and healthier”, commented Prof. Jose Ordovas of Tufts University, a world-renowned pioneer in nutrigenomics. Prof. Ordovas serves as the Senior Scientist and Director for the Nutrition and Genomics Laboratory and as the Chair of the Functional Genomics Core of the Jean Mayer USDA Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging at Tufts University. Since its inception in 2007 Prof. Ordovas has been Chairman of the Board and Scientific Director of IMDEA Food.

The IMDEA Food Institute carries out human nutrigenomic studies, which are reviewed by a Research Ethical Committee, on its platform comprised of common services for genomics, biostatistics, bioinformatics and nutritional counseling. Metabolon is the world leader in metabolomic analysis of complex biological samples and has made major contributions to the discovery of biomarkers and biochemical pathways associated with nutrients and drugs, and which have led to the development of unique diagnostic tools. Scientists from IMDEA Food and Metabolon have met in IMDEA Food’s new headquarters located in Madrid to define the lines of common interest and greatest priority and to launch the first of a series of studies aimed at defining the molecular basis of action of key food ingredients.

Dr. Steve Watkins, Chief Technology Officer, Metabolon commented, “Collaborative studies with IMDEA will employ the combined resources and expertise of our organizations to identify appropriate biomarkers of disease risk and prevention and to monitor biological impact of nutritional components in foods. This strategic collaboration is pivotal to advancing our understanding of nutrition’s influence on health and disease.”

Source: Business Wire

UCLA Dentistry Receives Major Grant to Develop Saliva Test to Predict Onset of PTSD

Each year, more than a million Americans are at-risk of developing serious mental health problems after experiencing a terrifying event or serious physical injury. Once manifested, these psychiatric illnesses, such as post-traumatic stress disorder and depression, can be extremely crippling and difficult to treat and are a leading cause of disability in civilian, military and minority populations.

Recognizing these emerging disorders early on provides health care professionals the best opportunity for preventive interventions. Now, a team of researchers, led by Dr. Vivek Shetty, a professor at the UCLA School of Dentistry, has received a $3.8 million research grant to develop a salivary-biomarker approach for identifying individuals at future risk of developing post-traumatic stress disorder and depression following a traumatic event.

Using Biomarkers to Identify and Treat Schizophrenia

In the current online issue of PLoS ONE, researchers at the University of California, San Diego School of Medicine say they have identified a set of laboratory-based biomarkers that can be useful for understanding brain-based abnormalities in schizophrenia. The measurements, known as endophenotypes, could ultimately be a boon to clinicians who sometimes struggle to recognize and treat the complex and confounding mental disorder.

RadMD Presents at BIO International Convention 2011

Dr. Kohkan Shamsi, Principal at RadMD, led one of the key Biomarker sessions at this year’s annual BIO International Convention in Washington DC. The event features keynotes and sessions from key policymakers, scientists, CEOs, and celebrities. The Convention also features hundreds of sessions covering biotech trends, policy issues and technological innovations, as well as the world’s largest biotechnology exhibition.