Myriad Genetics, Inc. (MYGN) Acquires Exclusive Rights to Pancreatic Cancer Gene Patents From Johns Hopkins University
SALT LAKE CITY, Oct. 15, 2009 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Myriad Genetics, Inc. today announced it has obtained from Johns Hopkins University a world-wide, exclusive license to patents covering mutations in the PALB2 gene that increase an individual's risk for developing pancreatic cancer later in life.
These patents, combined with Myriad's extensive patent estate covering additional predisposition genes for pancreatic cancer, form the foundation for a novel molecular diagnostic test to assist patients to understand their risk for hereditary pancreatic cancer. Currently under development at Myriad, this new predictive medicine product could be on the market in 2010.
"At the present time, pancreatic cancer is difficult to diagnose early, resulting in few options to help improve patient survival," said Dr. Gregory C. Critchfield, President of Myriad Genetic Laboratories, Inc. "Knowing who is at higher risk of pancreatic cancer will allow for the development of strategies for early detection and possible prevention of this deadly disease, giving doctors and patients tools to better address this cancer."
The PALB2 gene was recently identified as a susceptibility gene for familial pancreatic cancer by scientists at the Sol Goldman Pancreatic Cancer Research Center at the Johns Hopkins University (Science, April 10, 2009). Other commonly mutated genes that play a role in familial pancreatic cancer include BRCA2 and p16 to which Myriad holds exclusive rights under 10 issued U.S. patents.
If an individual has a mutation in one of the BRCA2, PALB2 or p16 genes, their risk of developing pancreatic cancer by age 70 may be as high as 10 to 20 times greater than that of the general population. A molecular diagnostic test that could assess an individual's risk of developing pancreatic cancer later in life would enable a physician to better manage a patient's healthcare by increasing surveillance to catch the cancer at an earlier stage when it is more treatable and the prognosis is more favorable. The information provided by such a test also may guide therapy.
The PALB2 gene is a tumor suppressor gene that encodes a protein that serves as a binding partner with BRCA2. The two genes work together to repair DNA damage. The PALB2 protein stabilizes the BRCA2 protein and then localizes and anchors it to DNA in the cell's nucleus, enabling BRCA2 to repair damaged DNA and mend mistakes in DNA that occur naturally or from environmental effects. Through this DNA repair support mechanism, PALB2 helps control the rate of cell growth and prevents cells from growing uncontrollably and turning cancerous. As reported in the April 10, 2009 issue of Science, no mutations in PALB2 were found in the 1,084 normal, cancer-free individuals in a previous study of similar ethnicity. However, in 96 familial pancreatic cancer patients, over 3% had protein truncating mutations that would have compromised PALB2's ability to perform its tumor suppressor function.
About Pancreatic Cancer
It is estimated that more than 200,000 individuals worldwide will be diagnosed with pancreatic cancer this year, and nearly all of them will die of their disease. In the United States, more than 42,000 Americans will develop pancreatic cancer in 2009. The primary cause of pancreatic cancer, like most other cancers, is mutations in a number of different genes that interfere with the gene's ability to produce necessary functional proteins. Inherited genetic predisposition to pancreatic cancer occurs in approximately 10% of all pancreatic cancer patients.
About Myriad Genetics
Myriad Genetics, Inc. is a leading healthcare company focused on developing and marketing novel molecular diagnostic products. Myriad's news and other information are available on the Company's Web site at www.myriad.com.
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This press release contains "forward-looking statements" within the meaning of the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995, including statements relating to the successful development and launch of a commercial pancreatic cancer predisposition test; the ability of a commercial pancreatic cancer predisposition test to assist patients to understand their risk for hereditary pancreatic cancer; the availability of this new predictive medicine product on the market in 2010; the ability of a commercial pancreatic cancer predisposition test to asses an individual's risk of developing pancreatic cancer later in life and to enable a physician to better manage a patient's healthcare; the ability of the information from such a test to guide therapy; and the estimates for diagnosed pancreatic cancer this year in the United States and worldwide. These "forward-looking statements" are based on management's current expectations of future events and are subject to a number of risks and uncertainties that could cause actual results to differ materially and adversely from those set forth in or implied by forward-looking statements. These risks and uncertainties include, but are not limited to: the risk that sales and profit margins of our existing molecular diagnostic products may decline or will not continue to increase at historical rates; the risk that we may be unable to develop or achieve commercial success for additional molecular diagnostic products; the risk that licenses to the technology underlying our molecular diagnostic products and any future products are terminated or cannot be maintained on satisfactory terms; risks related to delays or other problems with manufacturing our products or operating our laboratory testing facilities; risks related to public concern over our products; risks related to regulatory developments or enforcement in the United States and foreign countries and changes in the structure of healthcare payment systems; uncertainties about our ability to obtain new corporate collaborations and acquire new technologies on satisfactory terms, if at all; the development of competing products and services; the risk that we or our licensors may be unable to protect the proprietary technologies underlying our products; the risk of patent-infringement claims or challenges of our patents; risks of new, changing and competitive technologies and regulations in the United States and internationally; and other factors discussed under the heading "Risk Factors" contained in Item 1A in our Annual Report on Form 10-K for the year ended June 30, 2009, which has been filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission, as well as any updates to those risk factors filed from time to time in our Quarterly Reports on Form 10-Q or Current Reports on Form 8-K. All information in this press release is as of the date of the release, and Myriad undertakes no duty to update this information unless required by law.