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Project Underway in Germany to Develop Biomarker Tests to Support Protein Kinase Target Studies

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This story originally ran on Sept. 15.

Proteome Sciences R&D, a German subsidiary of UK-based Proteome Sciences, announced today the start of a three-year grant project to develop biomarker tests.

The effort, called BioTag, also includes ProQinase, a research division of KTB Tumorforschungsgesellshaft at the Tumor Biology Center in Freiburg, Germany, and the NMI Natural and Medical Sciences Institute at the University of Tübingen. BioTag is supported by the German Federal Ministry of Research as part of the KMU-Innovative-2 program to establish and validate new workflows aimed at the development and clinical evaluation of inhibitors targeting tumor protein kinases.

The funding amount for BioTag was not disclosed.

Utilizing the different capabilities of each partner, BioTag's goal is to develop biomarker tests "that can support kinase target validation studies, establish proof of concept for candidate kinase inhibitors and potentially monitor treatment response in pre-clinical and early clinical studies," Proteome Sciences said in a statement.

Protein kinases are one of the largest enzyme classes currently being pursued by drug firms as drug discovery targets, with about 500 kinases and 50 inhibitors in clinical development. However, developing protein kinase inhibitors has been challenging and many compounds show "disappointing" selectivity and/or efficacy in clinical trials, Proteome Sciences said. "Biomarkers should provide a deeper understanding of target activity and mechanisms of action and may also facilitate efficient development of targeted cancer therapies," it said.

BioTag draws on three different capabilities: Proteome Sciences has developed a fully integrated workflow for protein biomarker discovery and development using its proprietary isobaric mass-labeling technology called Tandem Mass Tags; ProQinase has a comprehensive protein kinase technology platform that includes kinase-specific inducible cellular and in vivo tumor models; and NMI develops siRNA tools for selected targeting of proteins in mammalian cells.

BioTag will use novel molecular strategies for target expression and biomarker profiling "to provide a seamless workflow in the early stages of kinase inhibitor development," Proteome Science said. One key element of the new approach is the combination of functional inactivation of target protein kinases by siRNA in prostate cancer cells with protein biomarker discovery and validation technologies, it added.

Biomarkers discovered from the effort will be used to help translate early drug candidates to human trials. Proteome Sciences will develop tests based on markers found in the cell models.

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