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Venaxis’ APPY1 Test Passes Futility Analysis in Pivotal Clinical Study

Venaxis, Inc. (Nasdaq: APPY), an in vitro diagnostic company focused on obtaining FDA clearance and commercializing its CE Marked APPY1 Test, a rapid, multiple biomarker-based assay for identifying patients that are at low risk for appendicitis, recently announced that the external Data and Safety Monitoring Board (DSMB) created as part of the Company’s pivotal clinical trial for the APPY1 Test has recommended continuation of the pivotal clinical trial, based upon completion of the first of two futility analyses included in the clinical trial design. Venaxis will host a conference call and webcast tomorrow morning, July 16, 2013, at 8:30 a.m. ET, to discuss the DSMB’s recommendation and to provide a general corporate update.

Venaxis’ APPY1 Test Passes Final Futility Analysis in Pivotal Clinical Study

Venaxis, Inc. (Nasdaq: APPY), an in vitro diagnostic company focused on obtaining FDA clearance for and commercializing its CE Marked APPY1 Test, a rapid, multiple biomarker-based assay for identifying patients that are at low risk for appendicitis, recently announced that the external Data and Safety Monitoring Board (DSMB) created as part of the Company’s pivotal clinical trial for the APPY1 Test has recommended continuation of the pivotal clinical trial, based upon completion of the second and final futility analysis included in the clinical trial design.

Joint Assurex Health and Mayo Clinic Study Demonstrates Clinical Utility of Assurex Health’s Pharmacogenomic Test to Guide Treatment of Major Depressive Disorders

Assurex Health, a personalized medicine company focused on pharmacogenomics for neuropsychiatric disorders, recently announced the publication of a joint clinical study conducted by Assurex and Mayo Clinic which provides additional evidence for the effectiveness of the GeneSight pharmacogenomic test over the current method for selecting psychotropic medications. The study results were published on July 24, 2013 in Pharmacogenetics and Genomics. The primary outcome of the study showed a substantially greater baseline to endpoint decrease in depressive symptoms with higher rates of response and remission in the guided GeneSight group over empiric prescribing, which is the current standard of care. These results reinforce the benefit of GeneSight in providing more objective, evidence-based support for clinicians in selecting medications for patients with psychiatric disorders.

The prospective clinical trial, involving 227 participants divided into pharmacogenomic-guided treatment and treatment-as-usual groups, utilized the GeneSight interpretive report to categorize 26 antidepressants and antipsychotics into color-coded green, yellow, and red “bins” based on each participant’s genetic information and pharmacology of the medications. Significantly greater reductions in symptoms were observed for the GeneSight-guided group using multiple symptom rating scales completed by both clinicians and patients. Participants in the GeneSight-guided group experienced an overall greater than 2-fold improvement in both symptoms and likelihood to achieve remission.

Overall, results with GeneSight-guided treatment were superior to unguided treatment-as-usual. The study showed the ability of GeneSight to identify individuals who are likely to have a favorable outcome with specific pharmacotherapies, supporting the clinical utility of the GeneSight test. A four-fold greater improvement in depressive symptoms was observed in the GeneSight-guided group among participants who entered the study on medications most discordant (red-bin) with their pharmacogenomic profile.

Physicians for nearly 94% of patients in the GeneSight-guided group used the report to either switch participants off medications discordant with their genetics to medications in the green bin or to adjust medication dosages according to the participant’s GeneSight report.

These findings replicate and expand on the magnitude of the effect observed in a previous prospective joint clinical study from Assurex and Mayo Clinic published in Translational Psychiatry (Oct. 2012). This smaller study compared GeneSight-guided prescribing versus treatment-as-usual in adult patients with a primary diagnosis of a major depressive disorder over an 8 week period. Furthermore, a one-year blinded retrospective study of adult patients with a diagnosis of depressive or anxiety disorder published in Translational Psychiatry (Mar. 2013) demonstrated that patients taking discordant red bin medications based on the GeneSight report had substantially higher rates of medical utilization, 3-fold greater medical absence days, and 4-fold greater medical disability claims than patients on non-red bin medications.

“Multiple clinical studies have now demonstrated the clinical validity and clinical utility of our integrated, GeneSight combinatorial pharmacogenomic testing platform,” according to Bryan M. Dechairo, Ph.D., Senior Vice President, Medical Affairs & Clinical Development at Assurex Health. “Prescribing a medication regimen that is more likely to succeed because it is tailored to an individual patient’s genetic profile can help clinicians better manage each patient’s disorder and improve clinical outcomes.”

Source: PR Newswire

Comprehensive Parkinson’s Biomarker Test Has Prognostic and Diagnostic Value, Penn Medicine Team Reports

Perelman School of Medicine researchers at the University of Pennsylvania report the first biomarker results reported from the Parkinson’s Progression Markers Initiative (PPMI), showing that a comprehensive test of protein biomarkers in spinal fluid have prognostic and diagnostic value in early stages of Parkinson’s disease. The study is reported in JAMA Neurology.

Compared to healthy adults, the study found that people with early Parkinson’s had lower levels of amyloid beta, tau and alpha synuclein in their spinal fluid. In addition, those with lower concentrations of tau and alpha synuclein had greater motor dysfunction. And early Parkinson’s patients with low levels of amyloid beta and tau were more likely to be classified as having the postural instability-gait disturbance- dominant (PIGD) motor type of disease, where falling, freezing, and walking difficulty are common.

“Biomarkers for Parkinson’s disease such as these could help us diagnose patients earlier, and we’ve now shown that the simultaneous measurement of a variety of neurodegenerative disease proteins is valuable,” said study senior author Leslie M. Shaw, PhD, professor of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine at Penn Medicine. Dr. Shaw and John Q. Trojanowski, MD, PhD, director of the Penn Udall Center for Parkinson’s Research, are co-leaders of the Bioanalytics Core for the Parkinson’s Progression Markers Initiative, an international observational clinical study sponsored by The Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research.

The team evaluated spinal fluid collected from baseline visits of the first 102 PPMI participants – 63 with early, untreated Parkinson’s disease and 39 healthy controls. The spinal fluid was evaluated for levels of five biomarkers: amyloid beta, total tau, phosphorylated tau, alpha synuclein and the ratio of total tau to amyloid beta. Spinal fluid measures of amyloid and tau are currently used in research to distinguish Alzheimer’s disease from other neurodegenerative diseases. In contrast to Alzheimer’s, where tau levels are higher than healthy controls, the study found that early Parkinson’s patients had lower levels of tau than healthy controls. One reason, researchers suggest, could be that interactions between tau and alpha synuclein may limit the release of tau into the cerebrospinal fluid of Parkinson’s patients.

“Through PPMI, we are hoping to identify subgroups of Parkinson’s patients whose disease is likely to progress at a different rate, as early as possible,” said Dr. Trojanowski. “Early prediction is critical, for both motor and dementia symptoms.”

The Parkinson’s PIGD motor subtype has been associated with a more rapid cognitive decline as well as greater functional disability. Using the biomarker test, this initial study found that levels of all spinal fluid biomarkers were lower in the PIGD motor subtype than other types of PD as well as healthy controls. In addition, amyloid beta and phosphorylated tau were at lower levels in the PIGD motor subtype, but were no different in tremor or indeterminate subtypes compared to normal controls.

This spinal fluid testing procedure is only being used in research studies, and will be continued to be evaluated and validated in a larger study of the PPMI cohorts.

In addition to leading the Bioanalytics Core of PPMI, Penn’s Parkinson’s Disease and Movement Disorders Center is one of the two dozen trial sites where volunteers are evaluated throughout the PPMI study. The Penn PDMDC has been part of the PPMI group studying people with early Parkinson’s disease as well as healthy adults since 2010, and began enrollment for a new, pre-symptomatic arm of the study in the summer of 2013. The pre-motor arm of PPMI is enrolling participants who do not have Parkinson’s disease and are living with one of three potential risk factors for PD: a reduced sense of smell (hyposmia); rapid eye movement sleep behavior disorder (RBD; a disorder in which the individual acts out his/her dreams); or a mutation in the LRRK2 gene (the single greatest genetic contributor to PD known to date).

“In addition to biomarker tests, validating risk factors could enable earlier detection of the disease and open new avenues in the quest for therapies that could slow or stop disease progression,” said PPMI trial site study leader Matthew Stern, MD, professor of Neurology and director of Penn’s Parkinson’s Disease and Movement Disorders Center.

Study: Association of Cerebrospinal Fluid β-Amyloid 1-42, T-tau, P-tau181, and α-Synuclein Levels With Clinical Features of Drug-Naive Patients With Early Parkinson Disease [JAMA Neurology]

Source: Penn Medicine

Mount Sinai and Exosome Diagnostics Partner to Accelerate Translation of Body Fluid Molecular Diagnostics to Overcome Limitations of Tissue Biopsy in Areas of Critical Unmet Medical Needs

The Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai and Exosome Diagnostics today announced a collaboration on the research and development of real-time nucleic acid-based body-fluid diagnostics to advance personalized medicine. Exosome will provide technical and development support to Mount Sinai researchers along with early access to proprietary technology products upgrades. The agreement will allow Exosome and Mount Sinai to establish targeted research and biomarker discovery programs in oncology, inflammation and other disease areas. Exosome anticipates pursuing commercial development and FDA review of successful validations for in vitro diagnostics.

“This collaboration represents the model that research centers and private companies need to adopt in the post-recession, sequestered economy to develop diagnostic products that can improve clinical outcomes, help advance drug development programs and help lower healthcare costs,” said James McCullough, Chief Executive Officer of Exosome Diagnostics. “New York State has taken an aggressive and appropriate approach to promoting cooperation of its leading research centers, such as Mount Sinai, with private industry resources and commercial capability to drive translational medicine. Mount Sinai and Exosome together can accelerate cutting-edge diagnostic products to serve the clinical market.”

Carlos Cordon-Cardo, MD, PhD, Chair, Department of Pathology, Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, added, “As we advance our precise medicine program in the Departments of Pathology and Genomics at Mount Sinai, biofluid-based, point-in-time analyses, made possible by the Exosome Diagnostics-Mount Sinai relationship, will undoubtedly lead to an improved, patient-centric understanding of disease, thereby guiding more informed treatment decisions and response to therapy.”

The agreement was negotiated by Mount Sinai Innovation Partners (Mount Sinai IP), which encourages the commercialization of novel research conducted at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai. Mount Sinai plans to leverage the considerable expertise of its clinical investigators in areas of key unmet medical needs to develop clinical study programs taking advantage of Exosome’s unique technology that has the ability to extract high-quality RNA from blood, urine and cerebrospinal fluid.

Under the agreement, Mount Sinai will retain rights to molecular biomarkers associated with disease progression and drug response, and Exosome will retain commercial development rights for molecular in vitro diagnostic products. The collaboration will extend for five years. Dr. Cordon-Cardo receives financial compensation from Exosome Diagnostics as a member of its scientific advisory board.

Source: PR Newswire