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Epigenomics, BioChain Collaborate to Bring Colorectal Cancer Screening Technology to China

NEW YORK (GenomeWeb News) – Epigenomics and clinical diagnostics firm BioChain today announced a collaboration to bring Epigenomics' Septin9-based colorectal cancer screening technology to China.

BioChain has obtained an exclusive license to develop and commercialize Septin9 in vitro diagnostic tests for colorectal cancer screening in the Chinese market, and in return, Epigenomics will receive upfront and minimum annual payments. It also will receive mid-single royalty payments if and when the product is approved by regulators in China.

Until then, Epigenomics will sell laboratory-developed test components to Newark, Calif.-based BioChain. Further financial terms were not disclosed.

BioChain will initiate a clinical trial to validate the Septin9 colorectal cancer screening assay in order to gain market approval by the China Food and Drug Administration, and has placed an order for 5,000 Epi proColon tests from Epigenomics. BioChain will begin the trail during the current quarter and expects to complete it in the second half of 2014, it and Epigenomics said.

They said that colorectal cancer is a growing medical problem in China and based on internationally accepted guidelines, almost 290 million people in the country are currently eligible for colorectal cancer screening.

As part of the deal, BioChain is acquiring 217,935 newly issued shares of Epigenomics' stock for about $1.3 million.

Additionally, the two companies will together validate other methylation biomarkers in the cancer field. Epigenomics owns intellectual property around cancer diagnostic markers for lung, prostate, and bladder cancer, and for other solid tumors. It also markets a CE-marked product for lung cancer diagnosis based on its proprietary SHOX2 biomarker.

If any products developed based on those markers lead to products, BioChain will have the option to acquire commercialization rights for the Chinese market, while Epigenomics will have rights for the rest of the world.

"This agreement reached today is the key initial step in translating our blood-based screening assay into a major tool for colorectal cancer management in this important region.," Epigenomics CEO Thomas Taapken said in a statement.