Thermo Fisher Scientific said this week it has acquired the exclusive rights from diagnostics firm Nephromics to use placental growth factor protein as a biomarker for the diagnosis of preeclampsia and eclampsia.
The company will develop PLGF as an immunoassay on its Kryptor platform, complementing its existing prenatal screening products, which include assays for PAPP-A, free βhCG, and AFP. It said it plans to launch the test in the first quarter of 2013.
In addition to running the assay on its own platform, Thermo Fisher said it would, "through management of several sublicenses under the acquired license … expand the availability of the assay through license partners"
It did not name these license partners, but Nephromics has in the past licensed the marker to firms including Abbott, Beckman Coulter, and Siemens.
Financial and other terms of the agreement were not disclosed.
Preeclampsia is characterized by a rapid rise in blood pressure that can result in stroke, seizure, and multiple organ failure in the mother and/or baby. According to data from the World Health Organization, it occurs in up to eight percent of pregnancies globally.
The measurement of maternal serum PLGF at 11 to 13 weeks of gestation is "essential in providing an excellent screening test both for chromosomal defects and for preeclampsia," Kypros Nicolaides, professor of Fetal Medicine at Harris Birthright Centre for Fetal Medicine, King's College Hospital, London, said in a statement. "Early identification of the pregnancies at high risk for [preeclampsia] gives the option for therapeutic interventions with such drugs as low-dose aspirin, which substantially reduces the prevalence of the disease."