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Orion Genomics Enters Discovery Collaboration and License Agreement to Advance Personalized Diagnostics


10/12/2009 6:51:50 AM

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ST. LOUIS, Oct. 12 /PRNewswire/ -- Orion Genomics today announced that it has entered into a multi-year collaboration and license agreement with the molecular diagnostics unit of Novartis Pharma AG. Under the collaboration, the parties seek to discover novel epigenetic biomarkers, and both parties have rights to independently develop and commercialize diagnostic products in their respective fields. Under the terms of the agreement, Orion Genomics also grants Novartis non-exclusive world-wide rights to its proprietary MethylScreen clinical assay technology. Financial terms were not disclosed.

"Epigenetic changes can play a key role in certain disease biology, and could lead to the development of important new diagnostic tools," said Nathan D. Lakey, President and CEO of Orion Genomics. "Ultimately, our collaboration with Novartis Molecular Diagnostics aims to support the development of innovative tests which we hope will provide physicians and patients with better information to guide treatment decisions."

The collaboration will leverage Orion Genomics' MethylScope® Technology to build high-resolution genome-wide DNA methylation maps for the discovery of epigenetic biomarkers in multiple disease fields. Novartis also obtains a non-exclusive license to MethylScreen® Technology, Orion's PCR-based clinical assay platform that quantitatively detects epigenetic biomarkers in patient samples. Under the agreement, Orion and Novartis intend to develop and commercialize promising diagnostic products that address various stages of disease. Resulting diagnostic tests could lead to advances in personalized medicine, potentially helping doctors optimize the treatment of patients.

"Science is revealing that epigenetics is a potent driver of disease biology and therapeutic response and a potential linchpin in the efforts to make personalized medicine a reality," said Howard McLeod, Professor of Medicine and Pharmacy and Director of the University of North Carolina Institute for Individualized Therapy. "As we consider how to optimize the use of the healthcare dollar, leveraging personalized medicine tools such as epigenetics to do a better job of matching individual patients with effective therapies will become ever more important."

Orion Genomics' MethylScope and MethylScreen technologies are used to discover and validate epigenetic biomarkers, which are changes to a layer of information written on top of the DNA molecule in the form of DNA methylation. DNA methylation controls whether or not a gene is turned on or off, also called gene-silencing. Epigenetic changes can be associated with disease risk, disease progression, and response to therapy.

About Orion Genomics

Orion Genomics, the Second Code Company, develops epigenetic research tools and molecular diagnostic products to fulfill the promise of personalized medicine. Orion's lead product is a simple blood-based test being developed to identify people at elevated risk for colorectal cancer. The company has active biomarker discovery programs in cancers of the bladder, breast, lung, ovaries and colon, and the company offers genomics services to the medical and agricultural and bio-fuels research communities. Orion Genomics is located in the Center for Emerging Technologies in St. Louis. For more information, visit the Orion Genomics website at http://www.oriongenomics.com.

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