Bionomics licences childhood epilepsy test

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Bionomics has announced that it has granted a licence to Massachusetts-based Athena Diagnostics to market Bionomics’ childhood epilepsy diagnostic to neurologists in North America and Japan.

Athena, specialists in diagnostic testing for neurological disorders, plans to make the gene-based Severe Myoclonic Epilepsy of Infancy (SMEI) test available later this calendar year to over 5,000 neurologists for whom it currently performs diagnostic tests.

Until now there has been no genetic test available to clinicians to allow them to distinguish SMEI from less serious forms of epilepsy. Early diagnosis should reduce the cost associated with current diagnostic procedures for SMEI and will enable doctors to implement appropriate treatment strategies, which it is hoped will reduce the high (18%) mortality rate associated with SMEI. Around 240,000 children in the United States may be candidates for the SMEI test.

Under the terms of the licence agreement, Athena will pay Bionomics upfront fees on signing, milestone payments linked to sales targets and royalty payments on net sales. Further details of the license agreement are unable to be disclosed for commercial reasons however, Bionomics considered Athena’s reach into the neurology market to be important in realising the value of the Company’s SMEI intellectual property. Under the agreement, potentially substantial cash flows to Bionomics will be in the form of milestone payments and royalties on sales achieved by Athena.

Bionomics and its collaborators, including Associate Professor Ingrid Scheffer and Professor Samuel Berkovic, the leading clinicians for the 100 patient clinical study which validated the test, will provide support to Athena in the promotion of the test to neurologists. Athena has around 45 sales representatives in the United States alone.

Athena has also expressed interest in licensing other epilepsy tests that Bionomics may develop in the future.

A key objective for Bionomics this year has been to accelerate its epilepsy diagnostic and drug discovery programs. “One of our aims was to bring the SMEI test to market with a partner this year and with Athena, we are on track to achieve this in the world’s largest epilepsy market,” said Bionomics CEO and Managing Director, Dr Deborah Rathjen. “This will not only generate revenue for the Company but is also further validation of our genomics platform. The generation of revenues from diagnostic tests based on Bionomics’ patented gene discoveries will provide a basis for fast-tracking our epilepsy drug discovery program to provide improved treatment strategies for patients with epilepsy.”

Bionomics is working with an extensive network of collaborative partners within Australia and the US in its epilepsy program including the Women’s and Children’s Hospital, Adelaide, the University of Melbourne, the Howard Florey Institute, Walter and Eliza Hall Institute, Southern Cross University, University of Wisconsin-Madison, Emory University and the Brigham and Women’s Hospital, a teaching Hospital of Harvard University.


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