Amarantus, Anavex team up for Alzheimer's biomarker Dx

Amarantus CEO Gerald Commissiong

Amarantus BioSciences Holdings struck a deal with Anavex Life Sciences to provide biomarker test services for the company's Alzheimer's drug candidates, a major win for Amarantus as it looks to expand the reach of its blood-based diagnostic test.

Under the agreement, San Francisco, CA-based Amarantus will use its LymPro Test to see how well Anavex's Anavex 2-73 and Anavex Plus increase the expression of a CD69 biomarker in patients' peripheral blood lymphocytes. The companies also signed a letter of intent for Amarantus to help Anavex plan blood-based biomarkers for a potential Phase III clinical trial of its Alzheimer's disease candidates.

Anavex is Amarantus' first customer, but the company is "currently in active discussions with both emerging and large pharma companies" to expand its customer base for its Alzheimer's biomarker services, Amarantus CEO Gerald Commissiong said in a statement.

"We are positioning Amarantus Diagnostics to be the market leader in Alzheimer's blood-based biomarkers for the Investigational Use Only (IUO) market, and we believe this agreement is the first important revenue generating step in this direction for Amarantus," Commissiong said.

A deal with Anavex represents a big step forward for Amarantus, as it looks to make headway with its LymPro test and blood-based biomarkers for Alzheimer's. Since exercising its right to option LymPro from MDx in 2012, the company has initiated CLIA development of the test and collected promising data for the product. Amarantus recently completed a planned trial of LymPro, dubbed "LP-002," which found that the test successfully distinguished Alzheimer's patients from control subjects.

The partnership also comes at a transitional moment in the industry, as a Cleveland Clinic study last year concluded that the failure rate for Alzheimer's disease drug development hit 99.6% from 2002-2012. Since the data was released, researchers and companies have remained bullish about developing drugs and diagnostics that can target Alzheimer's early-on, rather than treat symptoms as they appear.

In March 2014, researchers at Harvard University and the University of Texas Medical School in Houston said they made new biomarker discoveries that could help boost early detection and treatment of Alzheimer's disease. In July, scientists from King's College London and U.K. life sciences company Proteome Sciences unveiled 10 protein biomarkers in the blood that may help predict the onset of neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer's.

Acton, MA-based Cognoptix is taking a different approach, developing an eye test for Alzheimer's disease. The company in October roped in more than $15 million in a Series D financing round for its Sapphire II product, which scans the eye with a laser to image and spot amyloid-β protein in 5 minutes.

- read the release (PDF)

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