Epigenomics AG Announces Continuation of Pharmaceutical Biomarker Research Collaboration with AstraZeneca in the Field of Oncology
Epigenomics AG (Frankfurt, Prime Standard: ECX), a molecular diagnostics company developing tests based on DNA methylation, announced today that the company has entered into an agreement to continue a collaboration with AstraZeneca Ltd. to identify and analyse potential DNA methylation biomarker candidates for use in AstraZeneca’s oncology programs.
Following the successful completion of a study with AstraZeneca in 2004 / 2005, Epigenomics’ Clinical Solutions division will use its proprietary DNA methylation approaches to test the potential of novel DNA methylation cancer markers discovered during the previous collaboration to predict response to EGFR inhibitors such as AstraZeneca’s IRESSA in a panel of preclinical cancer models. Resulting biomarkers could be further validated to contribute to AstraZeneca’s ongoing biomarker research programme. DNA methylation is a biological process responsible for controlling gene activity that occurs in distinct patterns within cells. Changes in these patterns can be used as a marker for diseases such as cancer and for predicting response to drug treatment. The biomarkers can be incorporated into a specific type of diagnostic tests, so called pharmacodiagnostic tests.
Under the terms of the agreement, Epigenomics will receive R&D fees and has the opportunity to participate in the development of any potential pharmacodiagnostic products resulting from the collaboration. Further financial details were not disclosed.
“This agreement builds on our good relationship and extends the successful biomarker work we did together with AstraZeneca. The partnership with AstraZeneca provides Epigenomics with an exciting opportunity to support clinical evaluation of existing and novel oncology products, and in the long run to participate in the development of potential pharmacodiagnostic products resulting from the collaboration,” noted Christina Dahlstroem, Senior Vice President and Head of the Clinical Solutions SBU.
Methylation is a natural epigenetic process that occurs when a methyl group binds to one of DNA’s four bases, cytosine. The presence of methylation is responsible for controlling the activity of genes by turning them off, like a switch, when not needed. By measuring the differences in the methylation patterns between healthy and diseased tissue, a change in gene activity that could trigger diseases such as cancer is detected. Epigenomics has developed an industrial process that is able to read and interpret these methylation patterns.
Epigenomics is a molecular diagnostic company with a focus on the development of novel products for cancer. By detecting and interpreting DNA methylation patterns, Epigenomics’ tests can potentially diagnose disease at an early stage and help guide physicians to select an appropriate therapy. Epigenomics collaborates with Roche Diagnostics on the development of several diagnostic products in cancer. The company has its headquarters in Berlin, Germany, and a wholly owned subsidiary in Seattle, USA.
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