Affymetrix, MGH seal deal to develop cancer biomarker Dx

Affymetrix ($AFFX) wants to develop new oncology diagnostics and has found a worthy partner in Boston's robust research hub. The Santa Clara, CA company disclosed that it has sealed a new research collaboration and licensing deal with Massachusetts General Hospital to focus on jointly developing cancer biomarker tests.

Neither side is disclosing financial terms. But the deal allows Affymetrix to commercialize any new tests that grow from the joint deal, which calls for developing new in situ hybridization tests that can be used with Affymetrix's QuantiGene ViewRNA Assay system.

Daniel Haber, director of the MGH Cancer Center, explained in a statement that the collaboration will help advance development of diagnostic tests for specific cancer biomarkers, "so we can then find effective drugs for that particular form of the disease." In other words, a successful result of the new partnership will be the development of a number of new tests for a range of cancer biomarkers.

Companies are increasingly focusing on developing diagnostic tests that would enable the use of specific treatments. Affymetrix, which makes DNA microarrays and diagnostics, recently inked a deal with Leica Microsystems, in part, to help boost development of new companion diagnostic tests. GE Healthcare ($GE), for example, has also moved to develop specific tests to detect mutations that would indicate lung and other cancers. In addition, GE is now pursuing a diagnostic test that would identify Alzheimer's disease in the brain at a very early stage, theoretically spurring specific drug treatments.

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