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Opko Expands Prostate Cancer Biomarker Licensing Deal as Part of Commercialization Plan

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Opko Health said this week that it has expanded a licensing deal with Finnish biotech firm Artic Partners for prostate cancer protein biomarkers that it announced in January (PM 1/30/2012).

That initial license gave Opko rights to two biomarkers in the kallikrein family that can be used with prostate specific antigen to predict initial biopsy results in men suspected of having prostate cancer. With the expansion of the agreement, Opko has exercised "a right of first refusal to secure additional proprietary information, patents, know-how, property, and technology associated with time-resolved fluorescence detection technology" applicable to these markers, it said in a statement.

The company added that it "will pursue commercialization of the [markers] on platforms for use in a laboratory setting as well as the point of care."

Although PSA is commonly used as a prostate cancer biomarker, it is not specific for the disease, leading to an estimated 750,000 unnecessary prostate biopsies in the US annually. The Opko test will combine PSA with the two kallikrein markers in hopes of improving the accuracy of the test.

A study published in BMC Medicine in 2008 showed that the addition of the markers improved the predictive value of a standard clinical prostate cancer exam – consisting of age, PSA measurement, and a digital rectal exam – to an area under the curve of .84 from an AUC of .72.

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