NEW YORK (GenomeWeb News) – Eutropics Pharmaceuticals has received two new Small Business Innovation Research award contracts totaling $1.7 million from the National Cancer Institute to fund development of two biomarker-based companion diagnostic assays for use in cancer treatment.
Eutropics has signed a phase II contract valued at $1.5 million to commercially develop its diagnostic assay aimed at multiple myeloma patient management, and a $200,000 phase I contract to develop a profiling diagnostic assay aimed at guiding therapies for patients with acute myelogenous leukemia.
Cambridge, Mass.-based Eutropics said today that the phase II SBIR funding follows a successful phase I project that demonstrated the commercial potential for its core technology, called BH3 profiling, for which it holds an exclusive license from its equity partner, the Dana Farber Cancer Institute (DFCI).
BH3 profiling is used to determine if the mitochondria in cancer cells are preset to commit a cell to death and can identify cancer cells that will or will not respond to apoptosis signals. That function makes it possible to predict responses to therapies that initiate signals upstream of the mictochondria or directly target proteins which regulate apoptosis. The company said that so far the BH3 profiling assay has "proven highly effective at identifying when certain apoptosis-inducing therapies will or will not be effective, both in cancer cells in vitro and in cancer patients."
The company said the funding for the multiple myeloma assay will go toward validation studies that lead to commercialization, and the firm plans to develop strategic alliances with pharmaceutical and diagnostic firms to distribute the test.
Eutropics also said that it is currently collaborating with partners at MD Anderson Cancer Center, the University of Massachusetts Medical School, Mayo Clinic, TGen Corporation, DFCI, and "several pharmaceutical and biotechnology partners" to develop the BH3 assay technology for use in treating multiple myeloma.
"Our physician colleagues, thought leaders in the area of treating multiple myeloma, have clearly indicated the need for new tools that will guide treatment," Eutropics CEO Michael Cardone said in a statement. "The NCI has confirmed our belief that this technology will provide such a tool and with this contract has requisitioned Eutropics to put a validated test in the hands of people who will benefit from it."