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Ciphergen, Quest Diagnostics, Affy, Roche, Merck, Sirna Therapeutics, GlaxoSmithKline

Ciphergen Announces Second Development Plan With Quest For PAD
Ciphergen Biosystems announced this week that Quest Diagnostics has accepted from Ciphergen a second program for the development of a blood-based assay for the detection of peripheral artery disease.
This second development program will be carried out under an existing strategic alliance between the two firms to develop an ovarian tumor triage test.
Ciphergen and Stanford University are working together to develop a blood test that will help physicians in the diagnosis of PAD, an ailment similar to cardiovascular disease that affects 8 million to 12 million people in the US.
“Research has shown that nearly 75 percent of people with PAD do not experience symptoms,” Ciphergen said in a statement. “Proper diagnosis and early treatment can significantly improve the prognosis for patients with this debilitating disease.”

Affy, Roche Amend GeneChip Deal; Roche Trades License Payments for Milestones
Affymetrix and Roche have amended an ongoing licensing agreement that gives Roche access to Affy’s GeneChip microarray technology, Affymetrix said in an SEC filing last week.
The amendment, disclosed on Dec. 22, 2006, releases Roche from upcoming license payments and instead offers Affy payments based on commercial milestones. Roche had previously agreed to begin paying installments in 2008.
Additionally, the original agreement was to last as long as 18 years but the new version enables Roche to terminate it at the end of 2010 or at the end of 2015.
The companies originally penned their agreement in 2003 under which Roche agreed to pay Affy $70 million in up-front plus license payments for access to the GeneChip technology.
Roche uses the Affy technology in genotyping, gene expression, and resequencing research to develop molecular diagnostics.
Affymetrix would not disclose the specific sums involved in the new deal, and filed a secure SEC copy containing that information.

Merck Closes Acquisition of Sirna Therapeutics
Merck has closed its $1.1-billion cash acquisition of Sirna Therapeutics, Merck said last week.
Merck originally announced its plan to acquire the RNAi company on Oct. 30, 2006, but waited for regulatory approval and for Sirna shareholders to give the nod, which they did on Dec. 28, 2006.

Phase III Data on Tykerb Suggests Study in Earlier Her-2 Positive Breast Cancer
Data recently published in the New England Journal of Medicine from a Phase III study for GlaxoSmithKline’s investigational oncologic Tykerb reported that Tykerb in combination with Xeloda is superior to Xeloda alone in women with Her-2 (ErbB2) positive advanced breast cancer who have progressed following prior therapy, including Genentech’s Herceptin. 
Based on the findings, the study authors concluded that the unique mechanism of the small molecule dual receptor tyrosine kinase inhibitor, Tykerb, also called lapatinib, should be investigated for earlier treatment of Her-2 (ErbB2) positive breast cancer.
Lapatinib, an oral once daily therapy that inhibits the TK components of both EGFR (ErbB1) and Her-2 (ErbB2), is currently being studied in breast cancer and other solid tumors.
Tykerb has been submitted for marketing approval in the US, European Union and Switzerland. The drug has been submitted for approval in Australia, Canada and New Zealand. By the end of 2006, GSK had said it would file for approval in a number of countries in Asia, Latin America and Middle East.

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The Scan

UK Pilot Study Suggests Digital Pathway May Expand BRCA Testing in Breast Cancer

A randomized pilot study in the Journal of Medical Genetics points to similar outcomes for breast cancer patients receiving germline BRCA testing through fully digital or partially digital testing pathways.

Survey Sees Genetic Literacy on the Rise, Though Further Education Needed

Survey participants appear to have higher genetic familiarity, knowledge, and skills compared to 2013, though 'room for improvement' remains, an AJHG paper finds.

Study Reveals Molecular, Clinical Features in Colorectal Cancer Cases Involving Multiple Primary Tumors

Researchers compare mismatch repair, microsatellite instability, and tumor mutation burden patterns in synchronous multiple- or single primary colorectal cancers.

FarGen Phase One Sequences Exomes of Nearly 500 From Faroe Islands

The analysis in the European Journal of Human Genetics finds few rare variants and limited geographic structure among Faroese individuals.