Matrix-Bio, Inc., a diagnostics company that uses metabolite profiling to detect cancer and other diseases, has signed an exclusive global licensing and marketing agreement for metabolomic biomarkers with Quest Diagnostics (NYSE: DGX), the world's leading provider of diagnostic information services. Under the agreement, Quest Diagnostics will have the rights to use the biomarkers for the future, potential development of a clinical lab-developed test to aid in the detection of breast cancer recurrence.
“Our relationship with Matrix-Bio builds on Quest's leadership in oncology and mass spectrometry, and moves us forward in the emerging field of metabolomic clinical diagnostics”
Quest Diagnostics plans to independently develop and validate the laboratory-developed test from its Quest Diagnostics Nichols Institute research, development, and laboratory center in San Juan Capistrano (SJC), Calif. It will co-fund clinical studies with Matrix-Bio to demonstrate the clinical value of the test using the metabolomic biomarkers and, assuming successful validation, offer its own version of the test through the SJC laboratory and market the testing service in the United States and other countries. Quest Diagnostics also has the option to pursue an appropriate regulatory pathway for an in vitro diagnostic version of the test. Additional terms were not disclosed.
Matrix-Bio has developed a technique that uses mass spectrometry and nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) spectroscopy to identify metabolic changes occurring in cancerous cells. In 2010, Cancer Research, a peer-reviewed publication of the American Association of Cancer Research, published Matrix-Bio's findings, Early Detection of Recurrent Breast Cancer Using Metabolite Profiling. Using metabolite-profiling methods, Matrix-Bio's laboratory-developed test correctly predicted a recurrence of breast cancer an average of 13 months before clinical diagnosis and two times the sensitivity of the current standard tests involving immunoassays.
"Our relationship with Matrix-Bio builds on Quest's leadership in oncology and mass spectrometry, and moves us forward in the emerging field of metabolomic clinical diagnostics," said Jay Wohlgemuth, M.D., Senior Vice President, Science and Innovation. "It also delivers on a central tenet of our strategy to deliver a robust menu of services, in this case for breast cancer, which spans the continuum of care, from predisposition genetic testing to post-surgical monitoring."
Commenting on the agreement, Matrix-Bio Founder and Chief Scientific Officer Dan Raftery, Ph.D., said he is excited to collaborate with a company of the stature of Quest Diagnostics to advance the potential commercialization of a novel breast cancer recurrence test.
"Since 2006 when we first started working on metabolite profiling as a cancer detection tool, we have had the ideal partner in mind to help bring this potentially life-saving technology to those at risk of cancer. Licensing the biomarkers to Quest Diagnostics is a big step toward our goal to make improved and more efficient testing methods for diagnosing many forms of cancer available to physicians and patients. Quest has the people, processes, and presence to bring a clinically valuable breast cancer recurrence test to market and with it, hope to breast cancer survivors who want more accurate cancer recurrence monitoring," Raftery said.
Matrix-Bio is developing additional biomarkers that may provide the basis for tests for other cancers utilizing its patent-pending VeraMarker™ metabolite profiling technology platform. Raftery founded Matrix-Bio while a professor of analytical and physical chemistry at Purdue University in West Lafayette, Ind., where he received entrepreneurial support from the Purdue Research Foundation Office of Technology Commercialization. Raftery is now a Medical Education and Research Endowed Professor in the Department of Anesthesia and Pain Medicine and Director of the Northwest Metabolomics Research Center at the University of Washington in Seattle. He is also a member of the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle. Raftery's work is supported by the National Institutes of Health and U.S. Department of Defense.