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Signal Genetics Sues Med BioGene

By a GenomeWeb staff reporter

NEW YORK (GenomeWeb News) – Signal Genetics and its subsidiary Respira Health have filed a lawsuit against Med BioGene in the Supreme Court of the State of New York alleging a breach of agreement, violation of a confidentiality agreement, and misuse of proprietary information, among other charges.

New York City-based Signal said that its suit stems from Med BioGene allegedly breaching an agreement to provide Signal with "a not less than ten-year exclusive, worldwide license to use MBI's LungExpress Dx technology."

The LungExpress Dx test is a 15-gene signature panel for identifying those patients with early-stage non-small-cell lung cancer who, following surgical removal of their tumor, are at a higher and lower risk of mortality. Med BioGene has not launched the test yet in the US, though it had hoped to do so late last year.

According to Signal, the firms entered into a term sheet on Jan. 28, 2011, to grant Signal with the exclusive license. Signal said that the term sheet included a provision that Med BioGene agreed not to negotiate a similar deal with another party during a period of exclusivity that ended Feb. 4, and also agreed to maintain the confidentiality of the information Signal had provided to the Vancouver, British Columbia-based firm.

According to Signal, Med BioGene breached the agreement "almost immediately after executing the term sheet and now apparently has reached an agreement with another company to grant it a license in breach of MBI's obligations to Signal."

Med BioGene has yet to publicly announce such a licensing deal.

In a statement issued this morning, Med BioGene said that it "believes the claim is frivolous, vexatious and entirely without merit and intends to defend it vigorously."

Signal's complaint requests a judgment requiring Med BioGene to grant Signal an exclusive, worldwide license to the technology on terms set forth in the term sheet. In addition, it is seeking damages of an amount to be determined and further relief.

In early December, Signal launched its MyPRS multiple myeloma prognostic assay, a whole-genome test that interrogates 70 genes with an internally developed algorithm to help predict a patient's outcome. It views the LungExpress Dx as a complementary offering.