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Genomics Collaborative Wins US Patent for Pneumonia Diagnostic; Product to Follow Within 1 Year

NEW YORK, Nov. 2 — Genomics Collaborative has been granted a patent for its community-acquired pneumonia diagnostic technology, the company said on Friday. 

The patent, based on an identifying a polymorphism linked with the tumor necrosis factor-alpha, is the company’s first and allows researchers to screen the genotypes of patients at risk for severe pneumonia and septic shock. 

The polymorphism, which is associated with a higher risk of death in patients with CAP, is carried by about 16 percent to 20 percent of the population. But patients at risk of the disease who also have this polymorphism can be protected with a pneumococcal or influenza vaccine, according to GCI. 

The Cambridge, Mass.-based clinical functional genomics company is now working to identify a few additional relevant markers for increased risk of CAP-related mortality and is using that research to develop a diagnostic kit. Noel Kelly, the company’s director of academic collaborations, estimated that the product should be ready within a year. It would be GCI’s first diagnostic.

“We have an aggressive discovery program, especially in CAP sepsis, which is where this patent is,” said Kelly. “We’re [also] continuing the research to get it to the therapeutic stage. In the meantime, we can diagnose people.”

TNF-alpha, involved in killing some types of cancer cells, also plays a role in immune and inflammatory responses, including septic shock.

There are two to three million cases of CAP in the United States every year, and up to 20 percent of all patients with the severe form of the disease die from it. 

GCI, which maintains a large database of information that cross-links samples of DNA, tissue, and sera with patient data, focuses its own drug discovery in cardiovascular and inflammatory diseases. 

Two weeks ago, Genomics Collaborative entered into a research collaboration with San Diego-based Cypress Bioscience to provide it with DNA banking services and clinical research support for to develop fibromyalgia treatments. 

As GenomeWeb reported,  terms of the deal call for GCI to help collect, process, and store DNA and cerebrospinal fluid collected from fibromyalgia patients. It may also provide control samples from its own database for a patient registry that is being developed by Cypress. 

Financial details of the agreement were not disclosed.

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