July 15, 2008
The DNA Repair Company Licenses Test Predictive of Poor Outcomes to Breast Cancer Therapy
The DNA Repair Company (DNAR), an emerging company focused on personalized approaches to cancer treatment, announced today the licensing of the exclusive rights in North America for the use of a newly discovered diagnostic test that strongly predicts how women with breast cancer will respond to a common form of chemotherapy. The rights to the test were acquired from Helsinki University Central Hospital through Licentia Ltd.
The discovery, published in this month's edition of Nature Genetics, marks an important step toward the development of the first tests capable of identifying the breast cancer patients who should be given an alternative to standard anthracycline-containing chemotherapy regimens. The research teams reporting the discovery were led by Dr. Heli Nevanlinna at Helsinki University Central Hospital, Finland and Dr. Jiri Bartek at the Danish Center Society in Copenhagen, Denmark. The test has the promise of guiding oncologists in critical treatment choices. DNAR will utilize the genetic variant of the NQO1 enzyme - called NQO1*2 - to create novel diagnostic tests for personalized medicine applications and patient care.
The NQO1 enzyme has previously been shown to guard cells against oxidative stress. The recent publication identified NQO1*2, a variant which disables the production of the NQO1 protein, as a factor in breast cancer treatment response. Patients having NQO1*2 had worse survival chances when treated with an anthracycline-based chemotherapy than with an alternative therapy. Women who had a double copy of NQO1*2 in their genome had only a 17 percent survival rate while those who had only a single copy, or did not have a variant, had a survival rate of 75 percent. Women with NQO1*2 variant who were treated with a non-anthracycline containing regimen were less likely to suffer an adverse outcome. The authors emphasize that as this was the first study to discover such an effect and independent studies must be performed before a diagnostic test can be used for clinical decision making.
"The findings of the researchers on the effect of NQO1*2 on breast cancer survival were highly significant and hold important promise for predicting clinical outcomes for cancer patients," said Daniel Paterson, president and CEO of DNAR, Inc. "We are excited at the opportunity to employ the use of this novel biomarker in our efforts to give physicians data-driven tools to identify the most beneficial treatment regimen for a particular patient."
"Licensing this technology to DNAR provides an exciting opportunity to bring tangible and real-world benefits to patients and their treating physicians," remarked Kari Paukkeri, CEO of Licentia. "DNAR's sharp focus on addressing the most pressing clinical needs of patients with cancer makes them an ideal partner to further develop the discovery and transfer it into a new tool to improve patient care."
DNAR is leveraging its deep knowledge of the role that DNA repair pathways play in cancer to create new tools that give physicians unprecedented data-driven insights into which course of treatment will work most effectively for an individual patient. DNAR aims to improve patient care by improving physicians' ability to prescribe the most effective treatments the first time from the host of therapeutic options available. DNAR is advancing a major goal of personalized medicine - to identify the right therapy for the right patient, and to reduce the need for "trial and error" medicine.
About Licentia Ltd
Licentia Ltd is the leading Finnish technology transfer company in the field of life sciences. Licentia commercialises inventions by licensing or selling IPR rights and in addition by building new start-up companies. Licentia's customers are companies, private inventors, universities and other public research organizations including Helsinki University Central Hospital.