ST. LOUIS, Nov. 16 /PRNewswire/ -- Orion Genomics announced today that it has received a Notice of Allowance from the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office for a key patent application that covers Orion's MethylScope technology, a broad approach to discovering and quantifying the DNA methylation status on each and every gene in the human genome. The patent, authored by Orion co- founder, Rob Martienssen from Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory (CSHL), Eric Richards from Washington University, Zachary Lippmann from CSHL, and Vincent Colot from Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique, is expected to be issued in early 2007.
"DNA methylation, an important component of gene regulation, has been strongly linked to cancer in hundreds of publications. However, the hunt for DNA methylation based biomarkers has been limited in the past to one gene at a time approaches," said Nathan Lakey, CEO and president of Orion Genomics. "With MethylScope technology, Orion is able to conduct unprecedented genome wide DNA methylation profiling for the discovery of important cancer biomarkers using a fast and cost-effective micro array format. We have successfully used this technology to identify a suite of novel and promising biomarkers for the early detection of breast cancer, our lead product."
Orion's MethylScope technology, exclusively licensed from CSHL, is the only platform capable of detecting inappropriate DNA methylation for all human genes on a single array, providing an efficient and comprehensive biomarker discovery tool. By comparing methylation profiles, Orion discovers new biomarkers associated with specific diseases.
"With MethylScope technology, Orion is able to quantitatively compare DNA methylation patterns between normal and diseased tissue, identify critical genes and assess the diagnostic capabilities of these genes in an array format," said Jorge A Leon, Ph.D., Orion's acting Chief Scientific Officer. "Leveraging this information, we are able to develop highly sensitive and specific diagnostic assays using blood serum and other easily collected patient samples."
Each cell in the body must store, express and copy DNA that is approximately two meters long, which is 200,000 times the width of the cell. An elaborate mechanism for packaging the DNA is required by the body to store it. DNA methylation is a chemical sequence found on the outside of DNA sequence, which enables storage of DNA. Genes that are not being used are methylated to be packaged very tightly so that they are unexpressed or effectively silent. By contrast, genes that are needed are not methylated. Their loose packaging allows them to be expressed and regulate the function of the cell. DNA methylation is stable, detectable, quantifiable, and heritable. Because errors in DNA methylation accumulate with age at a far greater rate than errors in the DNA sequence, it is a major factor in the presence of disease such as cancer, and is a rich source of biomarkers for novel diagnostic tests.
About Orion Genomics
Orion Genomics, the Second Code biotechnology company, develops molecular diagnostic products to detect cancer at its earliest stages and to aid in appropriate therapy selection. Orion's most advanced diagnostic program is in breast cancer, where the company is developing a highly sensitive and selective early screening test, followed by additional epigenetic screening assays in lung, ovarian and colon cancers. Orion Genomics is located in the Center for Emerging Technologies in St. Louis. For more information, visit http://www.oriongenomics.com .