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Insight Genetics Licenses St. Jude's Test for Bone Marrow Transplants

NEW YORK (GenomeWeb News) – Insight Genetics today announced an exclusive, worldwide licensing deal with St. Jude Children's Research Hospital for a genetic test to improve donor matching in bone marrow transplants.

Under the terms of the deal, Insight will license from St. Jude's the KIR/KIR-Ligand Assay, which Insight said has been shown to prevent the recurrence of cancer in transplant recipients and to reduce the risk of death following bone marrow transplantation by about 60 percent.

The assay was developed by Wing Leung, chair of St. Jude's Department of Bone Barrow Transplantation and Cellular Therapy, Rafijul Bari, and colleagues at the hospital as part of research into the impact of variations in the KIR2DL1 gene.

Insight has obtained the licensing rights to the KIR2DL1 coding sequences and the KIR/KIR-Ligand Assay. In the immediate term, the Nashville, Tenn.-based firm will refine the assay for clinical use and plans to make it available to clinicians and researchers as a laboratory-developed test in early 2014.

Insight added that it will work to "deepen relationships with bone marrow donor registry programs and transplant centers to enhance typing and donor matching for each procedure."

"When successful, bone marrow transplants can transform patients' lives," Leung said in a statement. "This is why it's critical we do everything we can to ensure the best match between donor and recipient. The KIR/KIR-Ligand Assay has great potential in helping to identify the best transplant donors and improve outcomes for patients worldwide."

Citing statistics from the US Health Resources and Services Administration, Insight said that more than 18,000 Americans are diagnosed each year with life-threatening illnesses for which bone marrow transplants are the best treatment option. The KIR/KIR-Ligand Assay may be able to assist in improving donor matches and increasing life expectancy for as many as 7,500 bone marrow transplant patients in the US each year, it said.

Insight previously licensed two other biomarkers from St. Jude's — anaplastic lymphoma kinase, and a series of mutations within the ALK gene that confer resistance to ALK inhibitor therapy.