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NextGen Inks Deal with University of Nebraska to Use Biomarker Discovery Panel for NeuroAIDS Work

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The NextGen Group said this week its US subsidiary NextGen Sciences has signed a deal with the University of Nebraska for use of its csfdiscovery43 biomarker discovery assay.

Under the agreement, scientists at the Chronic HIV Infection and Aging in NeuroAIDS Center at the University of Nebraska Medical Center will use the assay to investigate biomarkers associated with cognitive abnormalities in patients chronically infected with HIV. The work will use the center's collection of well-characterized, longitudinal CSF samples.

It marks the first deal for NextGen's biomarker discovery assays that the company has announced since it realigned its business in March to focus more on the development and marketing of discrete biomarker discovery panels than custom services (PM 03/18/2011).

At the time, NextGen Sciences CEO Barry McAleer told ProteoMonitor the move was part of an immediate tactical approach to generating cash as well as "a way of finding more lucrative projects" in the diagnostics and personalized medicine space.

Since then, NextGen has launched nine biomarker discovery panels — all based on selected-reaction monitoring mass spec — including panels for a variety of cancers and neurological diseases. The company "is currently working on the launch of more such products," said NextGen Group CEO Klaus Rosenau, in a statement. It launched the csfdiscover43 panel, which measures 43 human proteins in cerebrospinal fluid, in June.

According to Howard Fox, director of the Center for Integrative and Translational Neuroscience at UNMC, current treatments have resulted in patients with AIDS living longer, but HIV-linked neurocognitive disorders still present a problem, "and the specific mechanisms and pathways leading to cognitive disorders are not fully understood."

"Within the next three years, it is estimated more than half of the HIV infected individuals in the US will be greater than 50 years of age," Fox said in a statement, noting that "the greatest risk factor for neurodegenerative diseases is age."

"One critical gap in neuroAIDS research, similar to many other neuropsychiatric and neurodegenerative conditions, is the identification of reliable molecular biomarkers," he added.

Financial and other terms of the agreement were not disclosed.

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