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Thermo Fisher Scientific Acquires All Rights for Pre-eclampsia Biomarker from Nephromics

Thermo Fisher Scientific Inc., the world leader in serving science, today announced it has signed an asset purchase agreement with Nephromics LLC, which includes a patent license for exclusive rights to use PlGF (Placental Growth Factor) for the diagnosis of pre-eclampsia or eclampsia. Clinical trials have shown that PlGF supports the diagnosis and risk prediction for preeclampsia (PE). Thermo Fisher will develop PlGF as an immunoassay on its own KRYPTOR™ platform and, through management of several sublicenses under the acquired license, will strengthen its global position in prenatal screening by expanding the availability of the assay through license partners.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), PE occurs in up to 8 percent of pregnancies worldwide and is a life-threatening disorder that occurs only during pregnancy and the postpartum period. Pre-eclampsia and related disorders such as HELLP syndrome and eclampsia are most often characterized by a rapid rise in blood pressure that can lead to seizure, stroke, multiple organ failure and death of the mother and/or baby. Global health care costs for pre-eclampsia are estimated to be $3 billion per year. Current methods for identification of pre-eclampsia – regular measurements of blood pressure and protein testing in the urine during routine prenatal visits – deliver PE diagnoses after the condition has reached an advanced status.

“The measurement of maternal serum PlGF at 11-13 weeks of gestation is essential in providing an excellent screening test both for chromosomal defects and for pre-eclampsia,” said Kypros Nicolaides, professor of Fetal Medicine at Harris Birthright Research Centre for Fetal Medicine, King’s College Hospital, London, UK, and Department of Fetal Medicine, University College Hospital, London, UK, and founder of Fetal Medicine Foundation (FMF). “Early identification of the pregnancies at high risk for PE gives the option for therapeutic interventions with such drugs as low-dose aspirin, which substantially reduces the prevalence of the disease.”

“Taking into account the fatal consequences of pre-eclampsia, an assay for testing PlGF may offer a much better outcome for patients with this disorder,” said Andy Thomson, president of the Thermo Fisher’s Specialty Diagnostics business. “Levels of PlGF in patients with PE are significantly lower than in non-preeclamptic pregnancies. This test is an additional tool in PE screening and will help identify women at risk earlier and, therefore, support therapy management.”

The addition of this PlGF assay is a complement to Thermo Fisher’s already existing prenatal screening portfolio (PAPP-A, Free βhCG, AFP, hCG+β, Fast Screen pre I plus software) and ongoing research and development activities in that field. Market entry for the new assay PlGF is planned for the first quarter of 2013.

Source: Thermo Fisher Scientific

Mayo Clinic Finds Seizure Generation in Brain is Isolated from Surrounding Brain Regions

Mayo Clinic researchers found that the part of the brain generating seizures in individuals with epilepsy is functionally isolated from surrounding brain regions. The researchers hope this finding could be a clinical biomarker to help identify individuals with abnormal brain function. This study was presented at the American Epilepsy Society’s annual meeting in San Antonio on Dec. 4.

Biomarker Identified for Predicting Increased Risk of Developing Post Traumatic Epilepsy

Approximately 5 – 30% of patients with traumatic brain injury (TBI) develop post traumatic epilepsy (PTE). The onset of seizures in patients who are susceptible to PTE can range from weeks or months to more than a decade after TBI. In a presentation today at the 64th American Epilepsy Society annual meeting, scientists report that the analysis of routine MRI scans can reliably quantify the disruptions in the blood brain barrier that are increasingly believed to be a prominent contributor to epilepsy development.

Researchers Find Possible Biomarker to Identify Seizure-Related Stress

New research from Rhode Island Hospital found that reduced levels of brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF), a protein in the brain that encourages growth of neurons, may be a trait marker for individuals with psychogenic non-epileptic seizures (PNES) (seizures that are psychological in origin). The findings are published in the October 4, 2010, issue of Neurology, the medical journal of the American Academy of Neurology.