Protagen this week said it will work with Biogen Idec to discover biomarkers related to relapsing or remitting multiple sclerosis.
Under the terms of the agreement, Protagen will use its UniArray protein-chip platform and expertise in autoantibody research to retrospectively analyze samples from a Biogen Idec clinical trial with the goal of identifying predictive and response biomarkers associated with MS therapies.
Protagen is developing its own serum-based assays for the early detection of MS and prostate cancer. It raised $12.7 million last year to fund its test-development program (BAN 9/7/2010).
Protagen CEO Stefan Müllner told BioArray News this week that the company will use its MS signature in the Biogen Idec collaboration. He said the firm's own test is currently undergoing a multicenter, clinical validation. He did not elaborate.
Dortmund, Germany-based Protagen said its UniArray can be used to develop diagnostics based on indication-specific autoantibody patterns in sera and to develop product-specific companion diagnostics and patient-stratification tools for clinical studies.
Protagen has inked a number of biomarker-discovery deals in the past year. In July 2010, it announced a deal with Mikrogen to identify autoantibody signatures in infectious diseases, and in June it expanded a cooperation with Bayer Schering Pharma to discovery biomarkers in endometriosis. Five months later, it partnered with MicroDiscovery to identify and validate biomarkers for undisclosed "medically relevant" diseases.
Müllner said that pharmaceutical companies "recognize more and more the importance of autoantibody signatures for drug development."
Regarding the Biogen Idec agreement, there is an "acute need to discover possible response and non-response biomarkers in MS using genomic and proteomic level markers," Peter Schulz-Knappe, chief scientific officer at Protagen, said in a statement.
He noted that autoantibody signatures "play an increasingly important role as a technology platform that could be used to identify patients for optimized treatment efficacy and to monitor disease progression."
Further details of the deal with Biogen Idec were not discussed.
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