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Cancer Analysis Firm PGDx Licenses Genome Mapping Technology from Johns Hopkins

NEW YORK (GenomeWeb News) – Cancer genetic analysis firm Personal Genome Diagnostics today announced it has licensed the exclusive rights to the Digital Karyotyping genome mapping technology from Johns Hopkins University.

The technology was developed by the company's founders, who also hold positions at the university. Under the terms of the deal, PGDx can sublicense the DK technology to third parties. Further details were not disclosed.

The DK technology enables quantitative analyses of DNA copy number at high resolution and sensitivity, PGDx said, adding that it allows for the identification of large chromosomal changes in human cancer cells, as well as amplifications and deletions, including regions that were previously unknown to have been altered.

The technology has resulted in "a number of landmark discoveries in human cancer, such as the identification of gene amplification of the therapeutically targetable OTX2 gene in medulloblastoma, detection of thymidylate synthase amplification as a mechanism of chemotherapy resistance in colorectal cancer, and comprehensive copy number analyses in large-scale cancer genome analyses," the Baltimore-based firm said.

The DK method can be used for other conditions, as well, including research into chromosomal abnormalities in hereditary disorders, and it is complementary to other technologies that PGDx has licensed from JHU, such as the CHASM computational method for the identification of cancer-related mutations.

PGDx was founded in 2010 and provides genome mapping services and analyses to oncology researchers, clinicians, and patients. Founders include JHU School of Medicine faculty members Victor Velculescu, PGDx's chief scientific officer, and Luis Diaz, its chief medical officer, as well as Ludwig Center Director Bert Vogelstein.

The company today also announced the hiring of Anthony Newton as chief commercial officer. He was formerly with Genzyme, a wholly owned subsidiary of Sanofi.

Along with today's deal, the company expects to announce a number of other collaborations and partnerships "in the coming months as we bring our advanced capabilities to the many researchers and drug developers who are rapidly advancing the field," Newton said in a statement.

"We also are using our CLIA-certified laboratory and our years of genomic know-how to provide information on tumor-specific mutations to cancer patients and their physicians. As the utility of cancer genomics evolves, we are considering a number of options for expanding our ability to serve the growing demand for patient-specific analyses that can help inform treatment decisions."