Exiqon Forms Research Collaboration With M. D. Anderson Cancer Center

VEDBAEK, Denmark, May 27 /PRNewswire-FirstCall/ -- Exiqon A/S, a leading supplier of high-value gene expression analysis products, today announces that it has signed a collaborative research agreement with the Kleberg Center for Molecular Markers at The University of Texas M. D. Anderson Cancer Center to discover microRNA based biomarkers for breast cancer.

Under this agreement, Exiqon will use its miRCURY(TM) LNA(TM) products to discover microRNA biomarkers.

Specifically, the project focuses on identifying miRNA expression signatures associated with relapse and progression of breast cancer, and to develop and validate diagnostic tools that will guide patient management.

"This collaboration is another important step for Exiqon on our path to develop microRNA based cancer diagnostics. M. D. Anderson is one of the leading cancer centers in the world, and through this collaboration we bring exceptional clinical expertise and strong gene expression technology together to develop next generation molecular diagnostics," said Lars Kongsbak, president and CEO of Exiqon. "This agreement with the M. D. Anderson will enable us to develop diagnostic products based on our LNA(TM) technology to support major advances in cancer research and cancer diagnostics."

"This collaboration with Exiqon to develop microRNA biomarkers is a part of our efforts to achieve the goal of the change of patient treatment. This collaboration is part of our 'Systems' approach to unify, DNA, RNA and protein approaches in understanding and developing molecular markers for treatment changes and our effort in developing microRNA based molecular marker panels with different industry leaders in the microRNA field," said Gordon Mills, M.D., Ph.D., director of M. D. Anderson's Kleberg Center for Molecular Markers and chair of the Department of Systems Biology.

"We have been developing collaborative studies with industry leaders to bring novel technological approaches to achieve the mission of personalizing medicine at the Kleberg Center for Molecular Markers," said Rahul Mitra, Ph.D., associate director of the Kleberg Center.

About LNATM

LNAs are a class of nucleotide analogues that bind very strongly to RNA and DNA targets. By including LNAs in detection probes, it is possible to design very specific high-affinity detection assays for small RNA targets like miRNAs, which otherwise is not possible using standard DNA based detection probes.

About miRNA

microRNAs (miRNAs) are a novel class of regulatory RNA molecules with surprisingly widespread effects on gene regulation. Although recently identified as a class of molecules, initial studies indicate that miRNAs may regulate as much as 1/3 of all genes in the genome, thus comprising an up till now hidden level of regulation. Interestingly, miRNAs have already been found to play important roles in several types of cancers and in processes involved in cellular differentiation. In the cell, miRNAs are found in form of single-stranded RNA molecules, which are typically 20-25 nucleotides long in their active form.

About breast cancer

Breast cancer is one of the most prevalent cancers estimated to world wide affect approximately 1 million women annually. The standard diagnostics for breast cancer is based on histology as well as molecular markers such as Estrogen-receptor (ER) and Progesterone-receptor (PR) protein status. The primary treatment for breast cancer is surgery and radiation, followed by adjuvant chemotherapy. However, 70-80% of patients receiving this treatment will survive without it, and therefore there is a need for diagnostic tests that help patients and doctors decide whether or not to use chemotherapy after surgery as well as which chemotherapy to use.

About The University of Texas M. D. Anderson Cancer Center

Marking more than six decades of Making Cancer History(R), The University of Texas M. D. Anderson Cancer Center is located in Houston on the campus of the Texas Medical Center. It is one of the world's most respected centers devoted to cancer patient care, research, education and prevention. M. D. Anderson has been ranked among the nation's top two cancer hospitals in U.S. News & World Report's "America's Best Hospitals" survey since the survey's inception in 1990. M. D. Anderson has been ranked No. 1 five times in the past eight years, including 2007.

About Exiqon

Exiqon's corporate mission is to combine leading-edge scientific expertise in gene expression with our proprietary LNA(TM) technology. Exiqon's products, services and scientific staff enable life science researchers to make groundbreaking discoveries. Moreover, Exiqon is addressing the unmet need for a new approach to the diagnosis of cancer. Exiqon's products are based on patented technology (LNA(TM) or Locked Nucleic Acids) that facilitates very precise and sensitive analysis of nucleic acids. Exiqon aims to expand the existing product offering for research use as well as to develop new proprietary molecular diagnostic products. Exiqon, through a number of recent initiatives, has positioned itself as a significant player in applying miRNA as the key biomarker in cancer diagnostics.

SOURCE Exiqon A/S

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