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AviaraDx, MGH Cancer Center, Genomic Health, Roche, Entelos, Pfizer, Illumina, Rosetta Genomics, US Genomics, BioMerieux, Proteome Sciences, SAIC/EAI, CombiMatrix, Herceptin, Nexavar


AviaraDx, MGH Cancer Center to Co-Develop Dx for Targeted Cancer Drugs

AviaraDx, formerly known as Arcturus Bioscience, and Massachusetts General Hospital Cancer Center plan to identify molecular profiles for multiple types of cancer, and hope to develop diagnostics that could help predict the way patient may responds to certain targeted cancer drugs, the organizations said last week.

Over the next two years, researchers at MGH and AviaraDx will perform gene sequencing and gene expression analysis on a "large number" of cancers to determine genes, gene signatures, and polymorphisms that correlate with response to specific drugs used for a "wide range" of cancers.

Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed.

Genomic Health's Oncotype Dx Under Study in Trial of Breast Cancer Treatment Effectiveness

In a trial sponsored by the US National Cancer Institute and coordinated by the Eastern Cooperative Oncology Group, researchers will study whether Genomic Health's Oncotype Dx can be used effectively to assign patients to the most appropriate treatment, NCI and Genomic Health said in a statement this week.

The TailoRx "trial is important because it is one of the first to examine a methodology for personalizing cancer treatment," Elias Zerhouni, director of the NIH, said in a statement.

The study will enroll more than 10,000 women at 900 sites in the United States and Canada, and is open to women recently diagnosed with estrogen receptor- or progesterone receptor-positive, Her2-negative breast cancer that has not yet spread to the lymph nodes, the statement said.

TailoRx is the first trial of a new NCI program, the Program for the Assessment of Clinical Cancer Tests, which plans to promote individualized cancer treatments by evaluating and improving diagnostic tests, the statement added.

The study follows in the wake of research presented this week online in the Journal of Clinical Oncology, which suggests Oncotype Dx can help identify women with Her2-negative, ER- or progesterone receptor-positive breast cancer that may benefit by adding chemotherapy to hormonal therapy.

Roche, Entelos Pen 2-Year Alliance to Study Metabolic Diseases

Roche and Entelos have inked a two-year collaboration to research metabolic diseases, the companies said this week.

Under the terms of the agreement, Roche will provide Entelos with R&D funding and milestone payments for biosimulation research conducted using its Metabolism PhysioLab platform, the companies said.

Roche said that Entelos' approach could be "useful in analyzing existing preclinical and clinical data in order to optimize future clinical trials" for drugs or tests that treat chronic metabolic disorders like diabetes and obesity.

Financial terms were not disclosed.

Pfizer Closes $25M Investment in Monogram

Pfizer's $25-million investment in Monogram Biosciences closed this week, with the conversion price of the convertible note set at $2.70 per share, said Monogram Biosciences.

Earlier this month, Pfizer said it would invest $25 million in Monogram through a 3-percent senior secured convertible note, payable in 2010.

The note is due May 19, 2010, unless converted earlier. The note will be payable quarterly in cash, or at Monogram's option in its common stock, the company said.

The conversion price is at a 20-percent premium to the average closing price of common stock during the five trading days preceding the note's issue. The note will automatically convert if the closing price is greater than $4.06, or 150 percent of the conversion price, for 20 out of 30 consecutive trading days.

The note is secured by all assets related to Monogram's HIV testing business.

Illumina Expects to Pocket $83.6M in Stock Placement

Illumina announced this week that it will sell 3.5 million shares of its common stock for $25.50 per share.

The company expects to receive net proceeds of about $83.6 million from the sale. Illumina last week disclosed its intent to sell the shares, but did not disclose the per-share price.

The company's shares closed at $26.13 on Tuesday.

Illumina has granted the underwriters of the offering the right to purchase an additional 525,000 shares of common stock.

Goldman Sachs and Merrill Lynch are acting as joint bookrunning and co-lead managers of the offering, while Cohen and Company and Robert W. Baird are acting as co-managers.

Rosetta Genomics, US Genomics to Develop miRNA-Based Test for Lung Cancer

Rosetta Genomics and US Genomics this week said that they will co-develop a microRNA-based, non-invasive early-detection test for lung cancer.

The collaboration will pair US Genomics' Trilogy 2020 platform and Direct miRNA assay with Rosetta Genomics' microRNAs to create a molecular diagnostic that uses a blood sample to identify lung cancer, according to the firms.

Financial details were not discussed.

BioMerieux Will Use Proteome Sciences' Biomarkers to Develop Stroke Dx

Proteome Sciences this week said it has penned a license agreement with BioMerieux to use its biomarkers in blood to diagnose and monitor stroke.

Under the terms of the agreement, BioMerieux will test Proteome Sciences' biomarkers for a stroke diagnostic panel across a patient population in Europe.

The biomarkers were discovered and validated using a combination of different proteomic approaches, all of which are available for external use through Proteome Sciences' ProteoShop platform.

Financial terms were not disclosed.

SAIC/EAI to Deploy CombiMatrix's Influenza Screening Systems in Field Study

EAI, a subsidiary of Science Applications International Corporation, has agreed to collaborate with CombiMatrix for field deployment of its array-based influenza screening technology, CMBX said last week.

CombiMatrix's technology screens for strains of Influenza A, including the HN51 bird flu strain.

Funding for this program will be provided by the Center for Innovative Technology/Institute for Defense and Homeland Security through its Partnership Intermediary Agreement with the Department of Defense, CMBX said.

Additional partners in this project include the San Francisco Bay Estuary Field Station of the US Geological Survey/Western Ecological Research Center and the Prince William Sound Science Center of Cordova, AK.

"This collaboration with EAI gets our technology into the field and into the hands of people and groups standing watch on US soil," said CMBX's CEO Amit Kumar.

Joe Dudley, chief scientist at EAI, that that he believes the "approach, combined with EAI's mobile-laboratory products and expertise, will provide a very powerful tool for monitoring and preparedness in the event of a pandemic."

Financial details were discussed.

Herceptin Approved for Early Stage Breast Cancer in EU

Roche and Genentech said this week that their drug Herceptin has been approved by European Union regulators for early stage Her2-positive breast cancer.

The drug was previously approved in the EU only for treatment of advanced Her2-positive breast cancer, the companies said.

Herceptin had 2005 sales of $1.78 billion, up 48 percent from 2004 sales.

Nexavar Appears to be Effective in Gleevec-Resistant CEL Patients

Researchers from the Flanders Interuniversity Institute for Biotechnology, known as VIB, have found that Bayer's Nexavar, or sorafenib, is effective in chronic eosinophilic leukemia patients who have developed Gleevec resistance. According to the researchers, a combination of targeted drugs provides a greater chance of effective lifelong treatment.

The research, by VIB researchers Els Lierman and Jan Cools, is published this week in the online version of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

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