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NIH, Sellas Life Sciences to Collaborate on AML Diagnostic

NEW YORK (GenomeWeb) – Biopharmaceutical firm Sellas Life Sciences announced today that it has signed a cooperative research and development agreement with the National Institutes of Health to develop an assay for acute myeloid leukemia (AML) that could potentially serve as a companion diagnostic for the company's investigational cancer immunotherapy galinpepimut-S.

Under the terms of the agreement, Sellas will work with the NIH's National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI) to develop a gene-based test for the detection of minimal residual disease — a condition in which leukemic cells remain in a cancer patient in remission — that can be used during galinpepimut-S treatment.

Galinpepimut-S is being developed for both hematologic cancers and solid tumors, including AML, malignant pleural mesothelioma, multiple myeloma, and ovarian cancer. Sellas said it aims to use the assay as a biomarker test in an upcoming Phase III trial of the drug in AML patients, and ultimately develop it for routine laboratory use or as a companion diagnostic kit.

"The NIH established the Myeloid Malignancies Section with the mandate to investigate the detection, prevention, and treatment of acute myeloid leukemia relapse, with particular focus on novel immunotherapy," NHLBI's Christopher Hourigan, who is collaborating with Sellas, said in a statement.  "Our hope is work in the laboratory may be able to be translated by others into a clinical test, allowing both earlier diagnosis of relapse and to provide a better tool for monitoring [an] AML patient's progress during treatment."