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OvaGene, Hitachi Collaborate on mRNA Biomarkers for Gynecological Cancers

NEW YORK (GenomeWeb) – Molecular diagnostics firm OvaGene announced on Thursday an R&D collaboration with Hitachi Chemical Research Center to develop novel mRNA-based signatures for gynecological cancers.

The agreement, which leverages Hitachi's exosome technologies and OvaGene's research, clinical validation, and translational expertise, focuses on the development of blood-based mRNA signatures to guide the selection of therapy and to monitory therapy response for ovarian cancer. The partners will also seek to identify novel mRNA signatures for diagnosing the early onset of ovarian or endometrial cancer in high-risk women, OvaGene said.

OvaGene and Hitachi will collaborate to develop tests for the analysis of tumor mRNA within exosomes and microvessels in blood and vaginal fluids.

OvaGene said that while early detection is the key to successfully treating ovarian and endometrial cancers, there currently are no simple, cost-effective, and reliable tests for early detection. Also missing are approaches for quickly determining whether a specific therapy is effective for a patient.

"These assays are developed to use blood or body fluid samples, making them easier to obtain from patients than surgical specimens," OvaGene CSO William Ricketts said in a statement. He added that technologies such as PCR and next-generation sequencing has resulted in less invasive methods of obtaining samples and can be used to develop robust and reproducible laboratory tests.

"Less invasive sample collection can potentially increase the number of patients who will be tested, therefore increasing the number of cancer patients identified at an earlier stage of disease," Ricketts said.

Financial and other terms of the deal were not disclosed.