NEW YORK (GenomeWeb News) — Agendia today said it has acquired the rights to the discovery of a “major mechanism” of resistance to the breast cancer drug Herceptin, and plans to develop a microarray-based diagnostic that can identify resistance-associated biomarkers.
Agendia said it has acquired the rights to use the Herceptin-related biomarker method, which is detailed in a study written by CSO Rene Bernards that appears in the Oct. 15 issue of the journal Cancer Cell. It was not immediately clear from whom the company acquired the rights.
Herceptin targets the HER2 protein, which is involved in around a quarter of all breast cancer cases and contributes to the aggressiveness of the disease. And although around a quarter of patients treated with the drug together with traditional chemotherapy have shown “striking initial responses,” a majority become resistant to the treatment, the company said.
According to Agendia, the technology relies on RNAi to simultaneously inactivate thousands of genes in cells that are sensitive to a specific cancer drug. “If the inactivation of a specific gene confers resistance to a cancer drug, cells harboring the inactivated gene can continue to grow in the presence of the cancer drug and can be readily identified,” the company said in a statement.
In the Cancer Cell study, researchers identified the phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase pathway as a “major mechanism” of unresponsiveness to Herceptin-based therapies. According to Agendia, the pathway is mutated in up to half of all breast cancer tumors.