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BSI Partnering with Pharnext on $14.2M Initiative to Develop Biomarkers and Therapeutics for AD

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Biosystems International announced this week that it is partnering with biopharmaceutical firm Pharnext on a six-year project to develop diagnostics and therapeutics for Alzheimer's disease funded by €10.4 million ($14.2 million) from the French innovation agency OSEO.

The collaboration calls for the companies to develop a prototype blood-based protein biomarker diagnostic for Alzheimer's disease as well as a therapeutic for the disease and a companion test for monitoring the drug's effectiveness and stratifying patient populations by their response.

The project will make use of Evry, France-based BSI's proteomics-based biomarker discovery process, which uses high-throughput production of monocloncal antibodies to screen for differential protein expression in the plasma of controls and patient subjects. The Bordeaux Aquitaine Center for Memory Resources and Research will be providing patient samples for the work.

Researchers have been investigating protein biomarkers for Alzheimer's in cerebrospinal fluid for some time now, but the search for blood-based biomarkers is more recent. A blood-based diagnostic is desirable because of the relative difficulty of obtaining CSF samples. Among the groups pursuing such biomarkers is the Alzheimer's Disease Neuroimaging Initiative, which has been working with molecular diagnostics firm Rules-Based Medicine on identifying a protein signature for the disease in plasma (PM 06/11/2010).

OSEO's funding package comprises a €2.7 million grant and a €7.7 million loan that is repayable if the project is a success. The initiative calls for the partners at the completion of the project to license the prototype diagnostic, the therapeutic, and the companion test to larger diagnostic and pharmaceutical companies, who can then bring those products to market.

In September, BSI merged with microarray-maker MicroBioChips. At the time, company founder and chief scientific officer Laszlo Takacs told ProteoMonitor that the merger would better enable the company to "establish collaborative research and sales [relationships]" with pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies (PM 09/17/2010).

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