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CPRIT Awards RBM $3M to Expand OncologyMAP Biomarker Panel; Launch Targeted for Fall


This story originally ran on July 15.

By Adam Bonislawski

Rules-Based Medicine announced last week that the Cancer Prevention and Research Institute of Texas has awarded it a $3 million grant to develop immunoassays for the detection of 150 to 180 blood-based protein biomarkers associated with cancer.

The company plans to add these assays to its OncologyMAP program, a new product for the discovery and development of novel diagnostic and prognostic cancer tests that RBM vice president of corporate development Sam LaBrie told ProteoMonitor is scheduled for release this fall.

The OncologyMAP program, which, like RBM's other biomarker discovery products, will be available on a fee-for-service basis, will initially feature roughly 100 assays. Of these, 50 were developed under a $1.1 million Small Business Innovation Research contract the National Cancer Institute awarded the company in 2007 (GWDN 10/10/2007). The remainder were developed as part of RBM's DiscoveryMAP panel and through another NCI SBIR contract awarded to RBM and Correlogic Systems in 2008 to fund research into new biomarkers to bolster Correlogic's OvaCheck ovarian cancer diagnostic (GWDN 12/18/2008).

The NCI project begun in 2007 is "nearing completion," LaBrie said. "Our commitment was to commercialize those assays, and so later this year we'll launch the first version of OncologyMAP."

The CPRIT award will enable RBM to add an additional 150 to 180 biomarkers to the OncologyMAP program over the next three years, releasing new versions of the offering as additional biomarkers are added.

The company will continue to coordinate with the NCI as part of the CPRIT award work, LaBrie said.

"NCI has lists of biomarkers that they think are important to be available to the research community. We're planning on using those lists with the CPRIT funds," he said.

"We're in discussions with [NCI] about additional programs, but nothing has been finalized," he added.

Traditionally, demand for RBM's biomarker discovery products has come largely from private pharmaceutical and biotech firms, but OncologyMAP could generate more interest among academic researchers, LaBrie said.

"There have been a few groups that coordinate funding in oncology for academic researchers," citing the NCI as well as the Canary Foundation and other philanthropic groups. "They all have interest in biomarker tests for early detection and treatment monitoring, so it could be that we'll have more success with those groups with this service."

LaBrie declined to provide pricing information for the new service, but said that OncologyMAP would be priced similarly to RBM's other panels.

He added that the company has lined up distributors for the product in Japan and will be providing drug development CRO Covance access to it through a co-marketing agreement that the companies signed last year (PM 11/20/2009).