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Meso Scale Discovery Launches V-PLEXTM Multiplex Biomarker Immunoassays

Meso Scale Discovery, a division of Meso Scale Diagnostics, LLC. (MSD®), recently announced the global launch of its V-PLEX biomarker tests, a new line of fully validated immunoassays for clinical research.

COPD Biomarker Qualification Consortium Making Strides with Plasma Fibrinogen as New Biomarker

The COPD Biomarkers Qualification Consortium (CBQC) recently announced at the European Respiratory Society Annual Congress that it has submitted a Qualification Package to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for plasma fibrinogen as a new drug development tool. The Qualification Package is the result of progressive discussions between the FDA’s Qualification Review Team and the CBQC. The CBQC looks forward to the results of FDA review while planning for a fall 2013 submission to the European Medicines Agency.

Dr. Ruth Tal-Singer, CBQC co-chair, vice president, Clinical Discovery, Respiratory Area Therapy Unit at GlaxoSmithKline, notes, “To the best of CBQC’s knowledge, fibrinogen is the first clinical biomarker achieving this milestone in the U.S. This is a major milestone for the CBQC, and it highlights the power of working together across multiple companies, academic centers and government organizations to achieve our common objective of improving the way we study novel medicines for patients who need them.”

To support the submission, the CBQC compiled a unique database of subjects from five individual studies, allowing integrated analyses to support two proposed uses as a prognostic biomarker to enrich clinical trial populations with Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) subjects at increased risk for all-cause mortality or COPD exacerbations.

A biomarker is a tool that can be used for early detection of a disease, selection of subjects for clinical trials or as an outcome for clinical trials. Fibrinogen, a protein that can be measured in the blood, is a promising biomarker which identifies a group representing 25 to 30 percent of all COPD patients (a COPD subtype).

Dr. Stephen Rennard, CBQC co-chair and Larson Professor of Medicine, University of Nebraska, adds, “COPD is extremely heterogeneous. This complicates development of new treatments, as individual COPD patients may respond differently. Fibrinogen has been submitted to the FDA as a tool that will help address this problem. Specifically, fibrinogen measurement can help identify COPD patients at risk for death or hospitalization, which can allow individuals to participate in studies of novel treatments designed to improve those outcomes.”

The CBQC, organized under the auspices of the COPD Foundation, is a public-private partnership among academic researchers, pharmaceutical companies and government parties and agencies.

John W. Walsh, president and co-founder, COPD Foundation, states, “The Consortium is providing a unique and productive opportunity to bring new drug development tools to the research community, with the ultimate goal of providing new treatments to patients who urgently need them.”

The CBQC Fibrinogen Working Group is composed of the following members:

  • Bruce Miller, industry co-chair, GlaxoSmithKline
  • Ruth Tal-Singer, GlaxoSmithKline
  • Mike Lowings, GlaxoSmithKline
  • Ubaldo Martin, AstraZeneca
  • Jeff Snyder, Boehringer-Ingelheim
  • Kay Tetzlaff, Boehringer-Ingelheim
  • Armin Furtwaengler, Boehringer-Ingelheim
  • Nicholas Locantore, GlaxoSmithKline
  • Nancy Leidy, Evidera
  • Amber Martin, Evidera
  • Jason Simeone, Evidera
  • David Mannino, academic co-chair, University of Kentucky
  • Stephen Rennard, University of Nebraska
  • David Lomas, University College London, U.K.
  • Jorgen Vestbo, University of Southern Denmark, University Hospital Manchester, U.K.
  • Graham Barr, Columbia University
  • Debora Merrill, COPD Foundation

Source: COPD Foundation

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

A Roadblock to Personalized Cancer Care?

There’s a major roadblock to creating personalized cancer care.

Doctors need a way to target treatments to patients most likely to benefit and avoid treating those who will not. Tumor biomarker tests can help do this.

The problem, according to a new commentary paper, is that, unlike drugs or other therapies, cancer biomarker tests are undervalued by doctors and patients. The authors say that inconsistent regulatory rules, inadequate payment and underfunded tumor biomarker research has left us in a vicious cycle that prevents development and testing of reliable biomarker tests that could be used to personalize clinical care of patients with cancer.

“Right now biomarkers are not valued nearly to the extent that we see with therapeutics. But if a tumor biomarker test is being used to decide whether a patient should receive a certain treatment, then it is as critical for patient care as a therapeutic agent. A bad test is as dangerous as a bad drug,” says Daniel F. Hayes, M.D., clinical director of the breast oncology program at the University of Michigan Comprehensive Cancer Center.

Hayes led a blue-ribbon panel of experts from universities, corporations, insurance and advocacy organizations to outline the issues in a commentary published recently in Science Translational Medicine.

Tumor biomarker tests look at the genetic or molecular make-up of a tumor to determine whether the cancer is likely to progress, and if so, if it is likely to respond to treatment. If the test is good, it can help doctors decide when a patient can safely skip further therapy, or it can be used to direct which drug might be most likely to help. The result: “personalized medicine,” which means patients get treatments that benefit them specifically and they avoid treatments – including their costs and side effects – that are not likely to make a difference for them.

The regulatory process, the research funding, the reimbursement, even the standards for journal publications for tumor biomarker tests are all meager compared to the robust support for drug development, the authors say.

This creates a vicious cycle in which researchers and drug companies don’t invest in tumor biomarker research, tests are not fully evaluated in clinical trials, and tests with uncertain value in terms of predicting the success of treatment are published. This in turn means that few of these tests are included in evidence-based care guidelines, leaving health care professionals unsure of whether or how to use the test, and third-party payers unsure of how much to pay for them.

The authors outline five recommendations and suggest that all five must be addressed to break the vicious cycle:

  1. Reform regulatory review of tumor biomarker tests
  2. Increase reimbursement for tumor biomarker tests that are proven to help determine which therapies will or are working
  3. Increase investment for tumor biomarker research so it’s comparable to new drug research
  4. Increase the rigor for peer review of tumor biomarker publications
  5. Include only proven biomarker tests in evidence-based care guidelines

“These recommendations are not about creating more regulation; they are about creating an even playing field that allows tumor biomarker tests to be developed and proven clinically relevant. We want to stimulate innovation yet hold investigators and clinicians to the highest scientific standards – as we now do for therapeutics,” Hayes says. “We need to change the way we value tumor biomarkers in this country.”

Study: Breaking a Vicious Cycle [Science Translational Medicine]

Source: University of Michigan Health System

New Research from SRI Points to Biomarker that Could Track Huntington’s Disease Progression

A hallmark of neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s and Huntington’s is that by the time symptoms appear, significant brain damage has already occurred—and currently there are no treatments that can reverse it. A team of SRI International researchers has demonstrated that measurements of electrical activity in the brains of mouse models of Huntington’s disease could indicate the presence of disease before the onset of major symptoms. The findings, “Longitudinal Analysis of the Electroencephalogram and Sleep Phenotype in the R6/2 Mouse Model of Huntington’s Disease,” are published in the July 2013 issue of the neurology journal Brain, published by Oxford University Press.

SRI researchers led by Stephen Morairty, Ph.D., a director in the Center for Neuroscience in SRI Biosciences, and Simon Fisher, Ph.D., a postdoctoral fellow at SRI, used electroencephalography (EEG), a noninvasive method commonly used in humans, to measure changes in neuronal electrical activity in a mouse model of Huntington’s disease. Identification of significant changes in the EEG prior to the onset of symptoms would add to evidence that the EEG can be used to identify biomarkers to screen for the presence of a neurodegenerative disease. Further research on such potential biomarkers might one day enable the tracking of disease progression in clinical trials and could facilitate drug development.

“EEG signals are composed of different frequency bands such as delta, theta and gamma, much as light is composed of different frequencies that result in the colors we call red, green and blue,” explained Thomas Kilduff, Ph.D., senior director, Center for Neuroscience, SRI Biosciences. “Our research identified abnormalities in all three of these bands in Huntington’s disease mice. Importantly, the activity in the theta and gamma bands slowed as the disease progressed, indicating that we may be tracking the underlying disease process.”

EEG has shown promise as an indicator of underlying brain dysfunction in neurodegenerative diseases, which otherwise occurs surreptitiously until symptoms appear. Until now, most investigations of EEG in patients with neurodegenerative diseases and in animal models of neurodegenerative diseases have shown significant changes in EEG patterns only after disease symptoms occurred.

“Our breakthrough is that we have found an EEG signature that appears to be a biomarker for the presence of disease in this mouse model of Huntington’s disease that can identify early changes in the brain prior to the onset of behavioral symptoms,” said Morairty, the paper’s senior author. “While the current study focused on Huntington’s disease, many neurodegenerative diseases produce changes in the EEG that are associated with the degenerative process. This is the first step in being able to use the EEG to predict both the presence and progression of neurodegenerative diseases.”

Although previous studies have shown there are distinct and extensive changes in EEG patterns in Alzheimer’s and Huntington’s disease patients, researchers are looking for changes that may occur decades before disease onset.

Huntington’s disease is an inherited disorder that causes certain nerve cells in the brain to die, resulting in motor dysfunction, cognitive decline and psychiatric symptoms. It is the only major neurodegenerative disease where the cause is known with certainty: a genetic mutation that produces a change in a protein that is toxic to neurons.

Study: Longitudinal Analysis of the Electroencephalogram and Sleep Phenotype in the R6/2 Mouse Model of Huntington’s Disease

Source: SRI International