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NanoString Takes Option to Liver Cancer Gene Signature for Possible Assay Development

NEW YORK (GenomeWeb News) – NanoString Technologies today announced it has secured the option to exclusively license a 186-gene signature from the Broad Institute that may be useful in determining the prognosis of patients diagnosed with hepatocellular carcinoma, or HCC.

In addition to potentially being useful for HCC, the gene signature may also help determine the prognosis of patients with hepatitis C-related early stage cirrhosis.

During the time in which the option can be exercised, Seattle-based NanoString will assess the feasibility of developing an in vitro diagnostic assay based on the gene signature for use on the company's nCounter Analysis System, it said.

NanoString said HCC is the most common type of liver cancer and is the third-leading cause of cancer mortality globally, while hepatitis C cirrhosis-related HCC is the fastest growing cause of cancer-related deaths in the US.

The HCC gene signature was invented by Todd Golub, CSO of the Broad Institute. Other inventors include researchers from the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute; the Icahn School of Medicine at Mt. Sinai; Massachusetts General Hospital; Massachusetts Institute of Technology; The Hospital Clinic of Barcelona; Institut d'Investigacions Biomèdiques August Pi i Sunyer; Institució Catalana de Recarca i Estudis Avançats; and Centro de Investigación Biomédica en Red de Enfermedades Hepáticas y Digestivas.

The HCC gene signature was described in a 2008 paper in the New England Journal of Medicine, in which it was "highly correlated" with survival in a training set of 82 Japanese patients. The signature was validated in an independent set of 225 patients from the US and Europe.

The platform to be developed by NanoString "could provide the multiplexed gene expression capabilities needed for clinical diagnostic use of this HCC gene signature, especially given the potential for a large-scale global surveillance testing opportunity," Yujin Hoshida, who led the discovery of the HCC gene signature in Golub's lab, said in a statement.

Financial and other terms of the deal were not disclosed.