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Epigenomics to Launch Epi proColon in Israel with Marketing Partner Pronto Diagnostics

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Berlin-based Epigenomics and Pronto Diagnostics this week signed an exclusive distributor agreement for the commercialization of Epigenomics' Epi proColon test in Israel.

Epi proColon is a test for the early detection of colorectal cancer. The blood-based test interrogates Epigenomics' proprietary Septin 9 biomarker.

Pronto Diagnostics plans to start marketing the test in Israel in November.

"With this agreement we have begun expanding our commercial reach beyond the home market. We will continue this expansion and expect to enter into distribution agreements for further regions in the near future," Epigenomics CEO Geert Nygaard said in a statement.

According to the Israel Cancer Association, colorectal cancer is one of the most prevalent cancers in Israel, and as many as 3,200 new patients are diagnosed each year with the disease. In Israel, everyone over the age of 50 is recommended to be screened for colorectal cancer every 24 months. With early detection of colorectal cancer, the survival rate may be as high as 90 percent.

"We expect that a significantly higher number of people will be prepared to undergo screening for colorectal cancer with this new test than with current methods such as stool tests and colonoscopy alone," Pronto Dx CEO Nir Navot said in a statement.

Epigenomics is hoping that with a blood-based test patients will be more willing to comply with colorectal screening guidelines, since it is less invasive than other screening tools. Patients have low compliance with fecal occult blood screening test on stool samples, and the success rate is lower than 50 percent.

Epigenomics internally markets the Septin 9 test in Germany, Austria, and Switzerland.

Epigenomics has also licensed its Septin 9 DNA-methylation biomarker to Quest Diagnostics, which markets in the US a laboratory-developed test based on the marker for the early detection of colorectal cancer (PGx Reporter 02/27/08).

In Europe, Epigenomics has licensed the Septin 9 marker to Abbott Molecular. Last December, Abbott introduced the Abbott RealTime mS9 Colorectal Cancer test, which is based on the marker. It was the company's first oncology assay outside the US.

In January, Abbott garnered CE-marking for the test in Europe.

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