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Theradiag Expanding microRNA Assay Plans with HIV, Anti-Obesity CDx Agreement

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After buying small microRNA firm Prestizia last June, France's Theradiag is moving forward in development of several miRNA tests in the HIV disease area, as well as two companion diagnostic projects for experimental therapies, one for HIV and another for obesity under a $1.6 million grant from the French government.

The company also has plans to develop miRNA signatures for use in the solid tumors area and for monitoring rheumatoid arthritis, which it will likely disclose more details about later this year, Michel Finance, the company's CEO told Gene Silencing News this week.

After acquiring Prestizia last year, Finance said that Theradiag would continue to advance the company's work on a test for HIV cell tropism characterization (GSN 6/28/2012).

This week, he said the company is "in line with our timeline for development … to have the test on the market in 2015."

Providing more detail on the project, he said the company expects the finished test to be based on a signature of five to 10 miRNAs measured by qPCR. "We are just working now on choosing these miRNAs and doing observation on cohorts of patients," he said.

The research is being conducted with academic partners connected with Prestizia at the Institute of Molecular Genetics of Montpelier, he added.

There is already a test on the market for identifying HIV tropism called Trofile, which is marketed by Laboratory Corporation of America's Monogram Biosciences, but Finance said that Theradiag is aiming for its qPCR-based test to be cheaper and easier to perform.

Last month, Theradiag announced that Oséo, the French Agency for Innovation, has provided the company €1.2 million ($1.6 million) to develop new diagnostic kits as part of a collaborative project — between drug development firm Splicos, Theradiag, and the French National Center for Research and Science — to develop RNA-targeting therapeutics and companion diagnostic tests for HIV/AIDS and obesity.

Under the grant, Theradiag is working to develop four new diagnostics kits, including two companion diagnostic tests for therapies from Splicos. One will be a new HIV/AIDS test for a treatment being researched by the company, while the other is for monitoring diabetes and associated metabolic disorders.

In addition, under the grant, Theradiag will develop two other miRNA-based HIV tests, one for early monitoring of HIV infection and disease evolution, and another for monitoring patients' resistance to antiretroviral treatments.

Finance said the company also has plans to develop miRNA signatures for use in some aspect of the assessment or treatment of solid tumors, which he said Theradiag would disclose more about in the next few months, as well as one to monitor disease evolution in rheumatoid arthritis.

Both of these projects are in much earlier development than the company's current HIV work that it is conducting on its own and under the Oséo collaboration, Finance said.

He added that as the company moves forward in these other disease areas it will probably look to partner with academic groups or hospitals to have access to appropriate cohorts to develop these other miRNA signatures.

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