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Oxford BioDynamics, King's College London to Develop Biomarkers for Rheumatoid Arthritis Prevention

NEW YORK – Oxford BioDynamics said Thursday that it is collaborating with King's College London to develop prognostic blood-based biomarkers to identify patients most likely to progress to rheumatoid arthritis (RA) who can benefit from treatment with Bristol Myers Squibb's Orencia (abatacept).

Financial details of the agreement were not disclosed.

The partners will employ Oxford BioDynamics' EpiSwitch, a 3D genomics platform based on qPCR that has been used to identify biomarkers of response to immune checkpoint inhibitors.

Rheumatoid arthritis is an immune-mediated chronic inflammatory condition that affects joints. Left untreated, it can result in significant disability by destroying the synovial joints.

The collaboration follows the publication of the King's College-led APIPPRA clinical trial, which tested the feasibility, efficacy, and acceptability of treating high-risk individuals with Orencia, a T-cell costimulation modulator.

The trial concluded that Orencia is safe to use in this indication and that patients treated with it were less likely to progress to RA than placebo-treated individuals.

"There are currently no drugs available that prevent this potentially crippling disease," Andrew Cope, professor of rheumatology at King's College London and lead investigator of the APIPPRA trial, said in a statement. "We are excited about our collaboration with Oxford BioDynamics and the early results in helping us identify patients at highest risk and how to reduce it."

"With fast adoption of EpiSwitch 3D genomic biomarkers across many fields, our collaboration with Professor Cope is of particular importance," said Oxford BioDynamics CSO Alexandre Akoulitchev. "The value delivered by our proven biomarker technology in the field of prognostic and predictive biomarkers in oncology should and would be matched by applications in rheumatoid arthritis."