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Proteome Sciences Contributing Protein Biomarker Analysis to New $14.6M EU Stroke Initiative


By Adam Bonislawski

Proteome Sciences said this week that it will be performing biomarker analysis for a new European research initiative to study hypothermia as a treatment after stroke.

The research project, called EuroHyp-1, is a phase III clinical trial investigating the effectiveness of cooling the brain within six hours of a stroke. The 1,500-patient trial, which involves 60 universities and hospitals in 25 countries, is being funded by an €11 million ($14.6 million) grant from the European Commission under the Seventh Framework Programme.

As part of the project, UK-based Proteome Sciences will use its mass spectrometry-based assays to perform biomarker analysis of patient samples in blood, the company said.

According to Ian Pike, Proteome Sciences' chief operational officer, the biomarkers the company plans to analyze stem from a separate stroke research collaboration between Proteome Sciences and the lab of University of Geneva researcher Jean-Charles Sanchez.

That work, Pike told ProteoMonitor, has focused on identifying protein markers in plasma that can rapidly distinguish between ischemic and hemorrhagic stroke, which is key to determining whether patients can be given tissue plasminogen activator, or t-PA, treatment, a therapy that dissolves blood clots and is therefore effective against ischemic, or blocked, strokes, but is can be life threatening if given to hemorrhagic stroke patients.

"We have a longstanding collaboration on stroke with [Sanchez's lab], and over the years we have identified more than 250 proteins as candidate biomarkers for a range of brain disorders, and for the last several years we have been evaluating a panel of five or six of these proteins in plasma as early diagnostic markers for stroke," Pike said. "So the aim of this study is to use these markers to monitor the performance of cooling treatment in stroke."

According to a statement from the EuroHyp-1 study, cooling the brain after cardiac arrest and birth injuries is already used to reduce ischemic brain injury. It acts by inducing a form of hibernation of the brain, "minimizing the need for oxygen and preventing further damage," study representatives said, adding that the European Space Agency is interested in the method for its potential use in long distance space travel.

Proteome Sciences is also continuing its work using the markers to guide use of t-PA treatment, Pike noted. He said the company's Geneva collaborators are "currently running a retrospective analysis of their data [on the usefulness of the markers in t-PA therapy], which hopefully they'll be able to present later this year."

Proteome Sciences, Pike said, has filed patents for the markers with the Geneva researchers and has "ownership or exclusive licensing rights to those patents in the stroke biomarker space." He added that it has sold research licenses for the markers to several companies and is in discussion with several others, although he didn't name specific firms.

If the company does bring the panel to market for use in guiding t-PA treatment, it could face competition from its sometime business partner Thermo Fisher Scientific, which has licensed Proteome Sciences' Tandem Mass Tag protein labeling reagents. Researchers at Thermo Fisher's BRIMS Center have been collaborating with scientists at Massachusetts General Hospital on a similar stroke protein biomarker panel for guiding t-PA treatment decisions (PM 2/25/2011).

Proteome Sciences' and Thermo Fisher's stroke biomarker efforts are separate, Pike said. However, he noted, they are "quite strongly overlapping in the actual biomarkers being studies in both centers."

Have topics you'd like to see covered in ProteoMonitor? Contact the editor at abonislawski [at] genomeweb [.] com.

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