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Sebia, Inserm Partner to Develop, Commercialize Hemoglobin Disease Diagnostic

NEW YORK (GenomeWeb News) – French electrophoresis firm Sebia today announced a deal with the French National Institute of Health and Medical Research, or Inserm, to develop and commercialize a test to measure free alpha globin chains in beta-thalassaemic patients.

The deal, which also involved Inserm's technology transfer firm, Inserm Transfert, calls for Sebia to support Inserm's development of the test. Sebia will have the right to acquire exclusive rights to develop the test on an industrial scale and to market it globally.

Financial and other terms of the deal were not disclosed.

The test under development is based on the interaction of the free alpha globin chains with the alpha hemoglobin stabilizing protein (AHSP). In beta-thalassaemias, a synthesis deficit in the beta chain results in a reduction of hemoglobin A in red blood cells, leading to an imbalance in the numbers of alpha and beta chains. This imbalance results in a relative excess of alpha chains, and for people with beta-thalassaemias, apoptosis and inefficient erythropoiesis can result.

Based on the size of the pool of free alpha chains, the severity of the disease in thalassaemia patients, as well as in patients with a synthesis imbalance in their globin chains, can be determined.

Frédéric Galactéros heads the red blood cell genetic disease unit at the Henri Mondor Hospital in Paris, and helped develop a test to quantify alpha globin chains. In a statement, he said that the test being developed by Sebia and Inserm will address a need not met by current technologies, which are more laborious, more expensive, and are exclusively for research laboratories.

The new test will not use radioactivity, take into better account a patient's phenotype, and will be better adapted to the monitoring of treatment, he said. It will also be available for use on a routine basis and accessible to all laboratories.

A study of the test with 54 patients has been completed and another with 100 patients will be conducted in 2013.

"By teaming up with Inserm, Sebia is strengthening its commitment to the research and development of tools for diagnosing haemoglobinopathies and monitoring their treatment," Sebia President and CEO Benoît Adelus said in a statement. "This test is an important innovation. It will complement the solutions currently offered by Sebia, which are designed to improve the diagnosis and treatment of these hemoglobinopathies."

Based in Lisses, France, Sebia develops and commercializes protein electrophoresis tests and analyzers for the in vitro diagnosis of cancers, inflammatory diseases, metabolic disorders, and hemoglobin abnormalities.

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