Broad, Dana-Farber license lung cancer biomarker IP to MolecularMD

MolecularMD grabbed exclusive patent rights to particularly promising lung cancer biomarker intellectual property co-owned by The Broad Institute and Dana-Farber Cancer Institute. The plan: to concoct diagnostic tests that would help match patients with targeted treatments, many of which are already FDA-approved.

Neither side is discussing financial terms, but MolecularMD, a company based in Portland, OR, gains the rights to develop diagnostic, prognostic and predictive tests involving DDR2 mutations relating to the Broad/Dana-Farber technology. MolecularMD says that the DDR2 biomarker could become the first that would enable workable drug treatments for patients with squamous cell carcinoma, the second most frequent histological subtype in patients with non-small cell lung cancer.

"DDR2 is potentially the first actionable biomarker available for [squamous cell carcinoma] patients, whose treatment options are currently limited to chemotherapy," Greg Cox, MolecularMD's director of licensing, said in a statement. He noted many could benefit from targeted therapies already approved by the FDA, and that the company is eager to start supporting clinical trials to broaden access to DDR2 diagnostics. The goal, the company noted, would be to focus on existing approved drugs but also novel compounds.

Why DDR2? As the company notes, researchers have recently discovered that squamous cell carcinoma patients have DDR2 mutations. Those mutations give rise to tumor formation, but also appear to respond to existing drugs that target kinase inhibition, the company said. And there are many already approved that would fit the bill (dasatinib, nilotinib and others) as well as more under development.

Last year, MolecularMD nailed down $6 million in Series B equity financing intended to speed up the commercial launch of various technology and tests focused on next-generation sequencing.

- read the release