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Insight Genetics Licenses ALK Gene Mutations from St. Jude for Dx Development

By a GenomeWeb staff reporter

NEW YORK (GenomeWeb News) – Insight Genetics today announced an exclusive worldwide licensing agreement with St. Jude Children's Hospital to develop a diagnostic test directed at the anaplastic lymphoma kinase, or ALK, gene to better monitor cancer patients and enable physicians to prescribe more effective treatments.

ALK has been identified as the cause of a number of cancers, and several drug firms are developing ALK inhibitors to treat ALK-positive tumors, Insight said a statement. However, patients can develop resistance to such inhibitors over time making such treatments ineffective.

Insight is licensing the rights to ALK gene mutations that confer resistance to ALK inhibitors in order to develop the Insight ALK Resistance test. The agreement covers mutations that can spontaneously arise after treatment with ALK inhibitors

According to the Nashville, Tenn.-based company, the ALK Resistance test will give patients and healthcare providers "valuable real-time information about the mutation status of ALK in cancers and help guide the prescription of alternate treatments."

Stephan Morris, a member of the St. Jude faculty in the departments of oncology and pathology will assist Insight in its development work. Morris discovered the ALK oncogene and mutations conferring resistance to ALK inhibitors.

Insight also is developing the Insight ALK Screen, a companion diagnostic for detecting the presence of any cancer-causing ALK fusion mutation and wild-type ALK upregulation. Both ALK Resistance and ALK Screen are PCR-based.

Financial and other terms of the deal were not disclosed.

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