EXTON, Pa., Jan. 10, 2012 /PRNewswire/ -- Morphotek®, Inc., a subsidiary of Eisai Inc., announced today that it has entered into two agreements with Fox Chase Cancer Center ("Fox Chase") in Philadelphia, PA to acquire clinical samples essential for the development and validation of companion diagnostic assays. These assays are intended for use in the identification of patients who will be suitable for treatment with targeted antibody therapeutics currently being developed by Morphotek.
Morphotek will provide funding for prospective and archival sample collection programs at Fox Chase to obtain samples from patients who are newly diagnosed with cancer or are being treated for a broad variety of tumor types. The patient samples will be used in the development and characterization of companion diagnostic assays that are intended for use in the identification of patients who may potentially respond to treatment with Morphotek's therapeutic antibodies currently in clinical trials or for monitoring the patient's response to these targeted therapies.
Elizabeth Somers, Associate Director of Diagnostics Development at Morphotek, stated, "One of the challenges associated with development and validation of clinically useful companion diagnostic assays is the availability of reliable, well-characterized blood and tissue samples from patients diagnosed with cancer and other related conditions. The samples provided under these agreements will enable an assessment of the diagnostic assays under development and will be utilized in the assay validation process, which helps overcome one of the most difficult obstacles associated with assay development. The projects have been initiated at Fox Chase and the sample collection is underway."
Samples received from Fox Chase are being used in the development of companion diagnostic assays for Folate Receptor Alpha (FRA), the target of Morphotek's lead therapeutic candidate, farletuzumab, which is currently being tested in several clinical trials against different types of cancers, including non-small cell lung adenocarcinoma and ovarian carcinoma. Studies have found expression levels to be variable between different cancer types. In light of this variability, a diagnostic assay that can identify patients with FRA-positive cancers may enable better diagnosis and treatment of patients affected with FRA-expressing cancers.
"We are excited to enter into these agreements with Fox Chase for a number of reasons: They are a local organization based in Philadelphia, one of the leading cancer research and treatment centers in the United States and a designated National Cancer Institute Comprehensive Cancer Center. Fox Chase is a highly reputable organization with a well organized biorepository containing a bank of well-annotated samples from a variety of cancer types and the appropriate procedures and people in place to allow prospective studies and data management to take place," stated Dan O'Shannessy, PhD, Director Diagnostic Development at Morphotek. "We believe that with today's technology, the success or failure of a companion diagnostics program is governed by the quality of samples available for analysis. The initiation of this project will be a significant step forward for our therapeutic development programs. Furthermore, it supports our human health care (hhc) mission by better defining a patient's disease subtype to help design more appropriate therapeutic regimens."
"Fox Chase is enthusiastic about collaborating with Morphotek to advance diagnostic applications in the growing field of personalized medicine for oncology therapies," says Kurt A. Schwinghammer, Ph.D., Vice President of Research and Development Alliances at Fox Chase Cancer Center. "We wholeheartedly support Morphotek's initiative to develop diagnostic assays to help determine which patients will best respond to therapy."
Morphotek®, Inc., a subsidiary of Eisai Inc., is a biopharmaceutical company specializing in the development of protein and antibody products through the use of a novel and proprietary gene evolution technology. The technology has been successfully applied to a broad variety of cell lines and organisms to yield genetically diverse offspring that are suitable for pharmaceutical product development in the areas of antibody therapeutics, protein therapeutics, product manufacturing, drug target discovery, and improved output traits for commercial applications. The company is currently focusing its platform on the development and manufacturing of therapeutic antibodies for the treatment of cancer, inflammation and infectious disease. For more information, please visit www.morphotek.com.
About Fox Chase Cancer Center
Fox Chase Cancer Center is one of the leading cancer research and treatment centers in the United States. Founded in 1904 in Philadelphia as one of the nation's first cancer hospitals, Fox Chase was among the first institutions to be designated a National Cancer Institute Comprehensive Cancer Center in 1974. Fox Chase researchers have won the highest awards in their fields, including two Nobel Prizes. Fox Chase physicians are routinely recognized in national rankings, and the Center's nursing program has received the Magnet status for excellence three consecutive years. Fox Chase conducts a broad array of nationally competitive basic, translational, and clinical research, with special programs in cancer prevention, detection, survivorship, and community outreach. For more information, visit Fox Chase's web site at www.foxchase.org or call 1-888-FOX CHASE or (1-888-369-2427).
About Eisai Inc.
Eisai Inc. was established in 1995 and began marketing its first product in the United States in 1997. Since that time, Eisai has rapidly grown to become a fully integrated pharmaceutical business. Eisai's areas of commercial focus include neurology, gastrointestinal disorders and oncology/critical care. The company serves as the U.S. pharmaceutical operation of Eisai Co., Ltd., a research-based human health care (hhc) company that discovers, develops and markets products throughout the world.
Eisai has a global product creation organization that includes U.S.-based R&D facilities in Massachusetts, New Jersey, North Carolina and Pennsylvania as well as manufacturing facilities in Maryland and North Carolina. The company's areas of R&D focus include neuroscience; oncology; vascular, inflammatory and immunological reaction; and antibody-based programs. For more information about Eisai, please visit www.eisai.com/US.
SOURCE Morphotek, Inc.