Biocartis teams with Belgian research institute to develop a novel cancer test

Switzerland's Biocartis will link up with Belgium's VIB research institute to develop a diagnostic test useful for colorectal and other cancers, the company said.

As is typical for these kinds of deals, neither side is disclosing financial terms, but we do have some outlines as to how the arrangement will will work. Biocartis, a molecular diagnostics developer, is licensing a number of microsatellite instability (MSI) biomarkers from VIB focused on colorectal cancer, among several other cancer types. The goal is to develop a user-friendly, quick diagnostic test that incorporates Biocartis' Idylla platform to easily identify MSI biomarkers.

Why do MSI biomarkers matter? VIB's Diether Lambrechts noted in a statement that his institute's biomarkers in this scientific area are much more specific and sensitive than others already out there. If they can successfully develop a test, it could vastly improve the use of MSI biomarkers to detect tumors. Right now, both parties note, MRI testing isn't used very much, because existing technology for the laboratory-developed assays is too complex for everyday use. Researchers are finding an ever-increasing number of biomarkers that identify cancer and other diseases. The more that become viable for diagnostics, the quicker personalized medicine has a chance of becoming an every-day reality.

France's bioMérieux recently ended a molecular diagnostics development deal with Biocartis to focus on growing its infectious disease assay development. Biocartis is still riding high, however, on a $44.5 million Series D funding it nailed down a year ago to help it expand its molecular diagnostics technology platform sales and grow its roster of cancer diagnostic tests. Johnson & Johnson Development Corp. ($JNJ), Philips and Debiopharm Group are among the company's backers.

- read the release

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