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SkylineDx, Imperial College London, UCSD Partner to Develop Kawasaki Disease Test

NEW YORK ─ Oncology and inflammatory diseases molecular diagnostics firm SkylineDx said on Thursday that it has inked a collaboration agreement with researchers at Imperial College London and the University of California San Diego School of Medicine for the joint development of a diagnostic test for the early diagnosis of Kawasaki disease (KD).

Financial and other terms of the agreement were not disclosed.

The test is based on 13 genes that form a gene signature in the blood of children with KD, and it enables the disease to be distinguished from other infectious and inflammatory diseases, Michael Levin, a professor of pediatrics and international child health at Imperial College London, said in a statement. "There is an urgent need for a reliable diagnostic test in order to prevent many children with KD worldwide from being diagnosed too late," said Levin, whose team discovered the gene signature. "With timely treatment we can reduce serious complications of the heart vessels from 25 percent to 5 percent."

KD is a rare, acute inflammatory disease with an unknown origin that causes inflammation of arteries, particularly in the heart, and predominantly affects infants and children below 5 years of age. A laboratory test that supports physicians in diagnosing KD rapidly and accurately is not yet available, and the collaboration aims to assess the technical feasibility of the test on a real-time PCR platform.

Dharminder Chahal, CEO of Rotterdam, Netherlands-based SkylineDx, said that the collaboration represents a "big step for our company as we are applying our know-how outside of oncology for the first time, and our teams are making significant progress in the assay development efforts."

In March, the firm announced it had entered an agreement with BioInvent International to characterize gene expression and immunological signatures in the tumors of patients before and after they have been treated with BI-1206, BioInvent's lead therapy candidate for patients with non-Hodgkin lymphoma and solid cancers.