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AstraZeneca, Oracle, Thailand Life Sciences Center, Agilent, Caliper, Iconix, CombiMatrix, UW, Nanogen


AstraZeneca Begins Phase III for Iressa Successor

AstraZeneca said last week that it had begun Phase III trials in lung-cancer patients for a dual-action pill combining effects similar to those of Iressa and Avastin.

The Iressa-like component of the drug is actually of the drug targets EGFR, but the small molecule is not identical to that drug, Mary Lynn Carver, an AstraZeneca spokesperson, told Pharmacogenomics Reporter. "EGFR is only one piece of this drug — the other is the vascular targeting agent," she said.

Recruiting for trials of the drug, which is known as Zactima, will begin in the fall, the company said.

Since Phase II trials of the drug showed broad efficacy across the patient sample, the company has no plans to couple the drug with a diagnostic, said Carver. "They're not using any diagnostics on any of the vascular-targeting agents right now," she said.

However, the company gathered data concerning genetic and other possible biomarkers, although Carver said she was not at liberty to specify.

Oracle, Thailand Life Sciences Center to Build Informatics System Under PGx Project

Oracle Thailand and the Thailand Center of Excellence for Life Sciences will jointly develop a system to gather electronic health records under the TCELS Pharmacogenomics Project, Oracle said this week.

For the project, TCELS and Oracle, which signed a preliminary agreement in January, will develop a nationwide system to capture clinical and genetic patient information. Based on technologies provided by Oracle, the project's infrastructure will be developed in collaboration with "selected partners from around the region," according to the company.

TCELS was founded last summer under a royal decree by the King of Thailand to provide a research and investment center for life sciences to benefit Thai citizens and the region.

Agilent to Use Caliper LabChips for Clinical Diagnostic Apps

Caliper Life Sciences has granted Agilent Technologies a non-exclusive license to use a "majority" of Caliper's microfluidics patent estate to develop clinical diagnostic applications on several Agilent instrument platforms, the companies said this week.

Specifically, Agilent will incorporate the LabChip microfluidics technology into its 2100 Bioanalyzer, 5100 Automated Lab-on-a-Chip, and future instrument platforms.

Separately, the companies said that Agilent will use Caliper as its exclusive supplier of planar LabChip products for the 2100 Bioanalyzer and future products for the next five years.

Under the terms of the agreement, Agilent will pay an upfront undisclosed licensing fee to Caliper, as well as royalties on future sales of diagnostic LabChip products. Additional financial terms of the agreement were not disclosed.

Iconix to Perform Chemogenomic Profiling for Neurocrine

Iconix Pharmaceuticals will provide Neurocrine Biosciences with chemogenomic analyses on candidate compounds in Neurocrine drug-discovery programs, Iconix said this week.

As part of the agreement, Iconix's DrugMatrix technology will be used to provide a gene expression-based chemogenomic work-up on a minimum of 12 Neurocrine compounds.

Iconix will then provide summary analyses to Neurocrine that will include analysis of on- and off-target effects including toxicity as revealed by gene-expression profiles, as well as the impact of the gene-expression changes on critical biological pathways and Iconix's DrugSignatures biomarker information, Iconix said.

Financial terms of the agreement were not disclosed.

CombiMatrix's New Dx Unit In Talks With Potential Distributors, Customers

CombiMatrix Molecular Diagnostics, a newly created subsidiary of CombiMatrix, has begun negotiating with undisclosed potential distributors and customers, the company said this week.

As Pharmacogenomics Reporter reported in May, the wholly owned business was created to focus on microarray-based diagnostics. Specifically, the business aims to be a testing center for clinicians who wish to use CombiMatrix' array technology for certain molecular diagnostics applications.

CombiMatrix said it hopes the subsidiary can take advantage of US Food and Drug Administration guidelines that allow the use of homebrew microarrays in creating diagnostics, thereby generating revenue before its technology gets FDA approval. Under the FDA's home-brew rules, labs that make the diagnostic array in their facilities and test it there do not require FDA approval.

The unit will initially focus on developing cancer diagnostics using the CombiMatrix's Desk Top Synthesizer, which was designed to enable researchers to build their own chips, Bret Undem, vice president of research at the Mulkiteo, Wash.-based CombiMatrix, said in May.

The unit has "begun efforts to build our first cancer diagnostic products based on CombiMatrix's CustomArray technology," Matthew Watson, CMD CEO, said in a statement today. He added that CMD has applied for "all appropriate licenses," including its Clinical Laboratory Improvement Amendment certification, which would enable its homebrew business. "We have also begun strategic alliance discussions with potential distributors and customers," Watson said.

Additional details were not disclosed.

UW, Nanogen Among Groups Awarded Grant to Develop Hand-Held Dx Tool

The University of Washington has won a $15.4 million grant as lead partner of a regional consortium to develop a "portable" diagnostic device.

The award is part of 43 other grants announced last week that won a total of $436 million from the nonprofit Grand Challenges in Global Health initiative. The grants went to industry and nonprofit groups, including PATH, Nanogen, and Micronics, each of which have "facilities" in Washington state, according to a UW statement.

The project aims to develop and test prototypes of a calculator-sized device that could be used in remote locations to diagnose diseases such as malaria and typhoid fever, the university said.

Additional details were not disclosed.

Filed under

The Scan

Mosquitos Genetically Modified to Prevent Malaria Spread

A gene drive approach could be used to render mosquitos unable to spread malaria, researchers report in Science Advances.

Gut Microbiomes Allow Bears to Grow to Similar Sizes Despite Differing Diets

Researchers in Scientific Reports find that the makeup of brown bears' gut microbiomes allows them to reach similar sizes even when feasting on different foods.

Finding Safe Harbor in the Human Genome

In Genome Biology, researchers present a new approach to identify genomic safe harbors where transgenes can be expressed without affecting host cell function.

New Data Point to Nuanced Relationship Between Major Depression, Bipolar Disorder

Lund University researchers in JAMA Psychiatry uncover overlapping genetic liabilities for major depression and bipolar disorder.