Treatment at the time of diagnosis
August 2011
by Lori Lesko  |  Email the author


CAMBRIDGE, Mass.—Setting its sights on delivering innovative prognostic and predictive assays for early-stage, tissue-based cancers, a development and commercialization partnership has been forged between Metamark Genetics, a privately held oncology molecular diagnostic company, and Munich, Germany-based Definiens, a leading health, imaging and intelligence firm.  
The agreement, announced June 30, calls for Metamark to combine its proprietary multiplex protein detection platform with the image analysis technology developed jointly with Definiens.  
If successful, the net result of this American-German collaboration will enable scientists to detect tiny tumors before aggressive treatment is necessary. This earlier-than-ever diagnosis is not only life-saving, but also life-changing in this age of personalized medicine.  
"Definiens is a clear world leader in quantitative digital pathology and in the analysis of biomarkers in tissue image data," Eric Devroe, vice president of business and strategy development at Metamark, said in a press release. "We see great synergy in combining Definiens' technology and expertise with Metamark's unique understanding of tumor heterogeneity and insight into the molecular drivers regulating tumor formation and aggression. We believe this partnership will enable us to co-develop and implement unique and important image analysis tools."  
The partnership enables Metamark to bring "proprietary content, methods and insight into tumor biology," Devroe tells ddn.   "The end results of our multiplex immunofluorescent staining will be analyzed with custom tools jointly developed by the Metamark and Definiens teams," he says.  
When Metamark first came up with the idea, Definiens was its logical choice as a partner.
"The Metamark team recognized Definiens as a clear leader in image analysis software and approached Definiens," Devroe says.   Although prostate cancer has been associated with the importance of early detection, the partnership is structured to broadly apply to cancer and is not limited to specific tumor types, he says.  
"The two teams are developing the custom tools, which Metamark will use for clinical validation of its diagnostic assays," Devroe says. "The ultimate goal is the validation and commercial delivery of prognostic assays that will provide important customized, tumor-specific information that will enable physicians to guide their patients towards optimal treatment choices at the time of diagnosis."  
Metamark's particular strength lies in its quantitative diagnostic approach, which identifies and accounts for small regions of molecularly aggressive cancer cells within an otherwise indolent tumor. The company is developing a portfolio of prognostic and predictive assays with the ability to address the "heterogeneous" nature of tumors not only between one patient and the next, but also within an individual patient's tumor.  
Definiens has already made groundbreaking achievements in the field of biomarker development based on its highly robust and scalable image analysis framework that enables scientists and clinicians to rapidly extract comprehensive biomarker and morphology expression profiles and to identify a relevant subset of descriptors by correlating them against patient outcomes, according to the company.  
"Definiens is pleased to partner with Metamark Genetics, and to incorporate our image and data analysis software technology into Metamark's pioneering oncology diagnostic offerings," Thomas Colarusso, vice president of sales and operations at Definiens, said in a news release. "The capability to provide detailed readouts from tissue analysis is opening up new gateways for developing diagnostic assays as we enter the age of personalized medicine."
Code: E081116

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