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The ‘Scout’ rounds up some business
December 2009
by Jeffrey Bouley  |  Email the author


MARTINSRIED, Germany—The PhosphoScout phosphoproteomics technology of Kinaxo Biotechnologies GmbH seems to be picking up steam of late, with three major announcements related to the technology in October—two of them new deals with Roche and Bayer Vital, and a third a renewal of an agreement with Janssen Pharmaceutica NV.

The Roche news broke on Oct. 21, with an announcement that Kinaxo has entered into a collaboration with Roche Diagnostics GmbH in Penzberg, Germany, under which PhosphoScout will be applied to support the identification of undisclosed biomarkers related to new therapeutic antibody-based treatment approaches being developed by Roche.


Although details of the biomarkers and the therapeutic antibodies to which they are linked were not specified, they do seem to be oncology-related, with Kinaxo's CEO, Dr. Klaus Godl, pointing out the value of PhosphoScout to Roche by noting: "Cellular signal transmission in eukaryotic cells is mainly regulated by the reversible phosphorylation of proteins. Therefore, differential analysis of the complete cellular phosphoproteome upon drug treatment provides highly informative insights into the modes of action of targeted cancer drugs."


Six days earlier, Kinaxo had announced a collaboration with Leverkusen, Germany-based Bayer Vital GmbH to employ PhosphoScout in the identification of novel biomarkers in a clinical trial conducted by Bayer Vital. That trial is for the multi-kinase inhibitor Nexavar in acute myeloid leukemia (AML). The drug is already approved for the treatment of hepatocellular and renal cell carcinoma and reportedly shows promising effects in several other indications, including AML, which is the most common leukemia in adults.


Kinaxo is being tapped to use its phosphoproteomics technology to reveal the drug's influence on cellular phosphorylation patterns and to search for novel predictive biomarkers.


Kinaxo and Bayer Vital note that therapeutic outcomes in AML therapy have improved only modestly over the past decades and outcomes remain dismal overall. In addition to using PhosphoScout to perhaps discover predictive biomarkers that can help predict likely therapeutic outcomes in patients, Kinaxo's quantitative phosphoproteomics powers will be applied to investigate the molecular efficiency of potential combination therapies in which Nexavar will be administered together with other targeted drugs to effectively fight cancer.


"New treatment options, such as Nexavar, are responsible for the progress which has been achieved in recent years in the fight against cancer. Yet we still have a long way to go until a truly personalized medicine, based on validated biomarkers, will become a reality," admits Dr. Erich Enghofer, head of Bayer Vital's oncology business unit. "That is the reason why we need to further investigate new diagnostic and treatment approaches."


Coming at nearly the end of October was the additional news of Kinaxo's deal with Ortho Biotech Oncology Research & Development, a division of Janssen Pharmaceutica in Beerse, Belgium, to extend an agreement under which Kinaxo is applying both its phosphoproteomics services and its advanced chemical proteomics services to perform comprehensive cellular mode-of-action analyses of some oncology therapies under development by Janssen's Ortho Biotech division.


The clustering of these three deals stands out a bit, given that the last two major news releases from Kinaxo on its phosphoproteomics platform were in February of this year and in October of last year.


The Feb. 24, 2009, news was of the awarding of a grant by the Bavarian Research Foundation to employ Kinaxo's quantitative phosphoproteomics platform in a study to develop new methods for individualized tumor therapy in pancreatic cancer. As part of that large-scale drug efficiency study, Kinaxo joined an interdisciplinary collaboration with Priaxon AG, Genomatix Software GmbH, the Technical University Munich and the University Hospital Rechts der Isar.


The October 2008 deal involved the launch of a two-year collaboration with Boehringer Ingelheim in which Kinaxo will apply both its Cellular Target Profiling platform and its phosphoproteomics platform for unspecified studies on drug mode of action and target identification.


Kinaxo's Godl says that PhosphoScout's power lies largely in its use of quantitative mass spectrometry as an "elegant, unbiased way to comprehensively analyze proteome-wide in vivo phosphorylation patterns." PhosphoScout doesn't require phospho-specific antibodies but instead analyzes the phosphoproteome by measuring the relative quantity of more than 15,000 phosphorylation sites.


This is important, he points out, because phospho-specific antibodies are available for only a "minor fraction" of the phosphorylation sites described thus far—and while an estimated one-third of all cellular proteins are thought to be reversibly phosphorylated at some point, researchers have as yet only identified a small subset of in vivo phosphorylation sites at all. As such, comprehensive, detailed analysis of global cellular phosphorylation patterns based on antibody-dependent approaches is "nearly impossible" according to Kinaxo.



Roche and High Throughput Genomics partner for advanced gene expression analysis solution


MADISON, Wis.—Roche NimbleGen announced in November that it has entered into a supply agreement with High Throughput Genomics Inc. (HTG), provider of the quantitative Nuclease Protection Assay (qNPA). Under the agreement, Roche NimbleGen will provide HTG with high-density, multiplex DNA microarray slides for advanced gene expression analysis.


HTG will apply the company's quantitative nuclease protection assay (qNPA) process to the microarrays to enable researchers to quickly and efficiently measure the gene expression levels in a variety of sample types. The agreement enhances HTG's existing service capability offering with the ability to take a broader look at gene expression through the multiplex capability of the Roche NimbleGen microarrays. Sample preparation using qNPA technology allows for a much simpler, more cost-effective workflow versus traditional labeling methods, while the Roche NimbleGen multiplex technology offers a cost-effective high-density microarray providing in depth gene expression information.


"HTG's agreement with Roche NimbleGen affords us the opportunity to provide our customers with customizable content and an attractive sample preparation and processing format. Compared with other vendors, Roche NimbleGen was able to offer us unique and differentiated array synthesis and formatting capabilities that best meet our client needs," says T.J. Johnson, president and CEO of HTG. "The combination of low-cost, flexibility, and high-throughput means HTG's customers can derive substantial benefits quickly and we can increase the plex in the analysis process as needed."

Code: E120918



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