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Oslo University Hospital Licenses Colorectal Cancer Markers to OGT for Test Development

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This article has been updated from a version posted Feb. 22 to include comments from an OGT executive.

Oxford Gene Technology has obtained an exclusive license to 12 "highly promising" colorectal cancer tissue biomarkers, the British array firm said this week.

The deal with Inven2, the technology transfer office at Oslo University Hospital and the University of Oslo, enables OGT to commercialize "any resulting test" developed using the markers as well as to sublicense the markers to other parties.

Ragnhilde Lothe's laboratory at the Norwegian Radium Hospital, part of OUH, discovered the DNA methylation markers using gene expression arrays and methylation-specific PCR, and OGT said that it has validated them, showing 93 percent sensitivity and 90 percent specificity when used to identify early stage colorectal cancer in tissue biopsies.

Additional work investigating the efficacy of the biomarkers in blood and fecal samples is ongoing, OGT said.

Traditionally focused on the research market, OGT has shown an interest in molecular diagnostics in recent years. The Oxford-based firm acquired protein array firm Sense Proteomic in 2009 and the following year announced plans to develop a prostate cancer test using that platform (BAN 10/05/2010).

In November, OGT agreed to use its protein and microRNA-profiling microarray platforms as part of a project with Abcodia to develop tests for the early detection of pancreatic cancer (BAN 11/8/2011). Abcodia is a biomarker discovery firm and serum bank based in London.

And in December, OGT introduced next-generation clinical sequencing services to clients to discover disease-causing mutations (BAN 12/20/2011).

Of its most recent agreement with Inven2, CEO Mike Evans said in a statement that the "higher specificity of this new panel of markers could provide a more robust screening tool than the tests currently used, while eventually lowering overall costs, which would be of significant benefit for both patients and the clinicians using them."

OGT will not be using arrays or sequencing to validate the markers, however. John Anson, OGT's vice president of biomarker discovery, told BioArray News this week that the firm will use PCR-based assays instead.

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