Quest Diagnostics, Matrix-Bio announce licensing agreement
by Kelsey Kaustinen  |  Email the author


FORT WAYNE, In.—Diagnostics company Matrix-Bio, Inc. and Quest Diagnostics have inked an exclusive global licensing and marketing agreement for metabolomic biomarkers. Per the terms of the agreement, Quest Diagnostics gains the rights to use the biomarkers for future, potential development of a test that can help with detecting breast cancer recurrence. No financial terms were disclosed.  
Quest Diagnostics intends to develop and validate the test at its Quest Diagnostics Nichols Institute research, development and laboratory center in San Juan Capistrano, Calif. Quest Diagnostics and Matrix-Bio will co-fund clinical studies in order to determine the clinical value of the test using the biomarkers. Should the test be validated, Quest Diagnostics will offer its version of the test through its San Juan Capistrano facility and market it in the United States and other countries. Quest Diagnostics also gains an option to pursue a regulatory pathway for an in-vitro diagnostic version of the 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," said Dan Raftery, Ph.D., founder and chief scientific officer of Matrix-Bio, in a press release. "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."
Matrix-Bio's approach of focusing on metabolite profiling consists of the identification and measurement of changes in "important small-molecule metabolite species," the company notes on its website. This method has the potential to detect cancer, heart disease, diabetes and conditions such as preeclampsia, in addition to its promise for determining disease recurrence. Matrix-Bio's technique is a combination of mass spectrometry and nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy for the identification of metabolic changes that occur in cancer cells.  
In October 2010, Cancer Research published Matrix-Bio's findings, in which the company revealed that using its metabolite-profiling methods, Matrix-Bio's VeraMarker-BCR blood test was capable of accurately predicting breast cancer recurrence an average of 13 months before clinical diagnosis.  
"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," Jay Wohlgemuth, M.D., senior vice president of Science and Innovation for Quest Diagnostics, commented in a statement. "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."        
SOURCE: Matrix-Bio press release
Code: E04111301

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