Myriad joins forces with Institut Pasteur for TB diagnostic research project

Ralph McDade

Myriad Genetics ($MYGN) is teaming up with the Institut Pasteur for a research project to address the growing tuberculosis (TB) epidemic, continuing the company's diagnostics winning streak and expanding its global footprint.

The company's RBM unit for protein biomarkers and services and the Institut Pasteur will launch a proof-of-concept study to identify patients with latent and active tuberculosis infections at South African Tuberculosis Vaccine Initiative (SATVI) clinical study sites by using Myriad RBM's TruCulture system for point-of-care blood collection and immune response monitoring. Once blood samples are collected, Myriad RBM and the Institut Pasteur will use Myriad's multi-analyte profiling (MAP) platform to look at which protein biomarkers regulate the immune system response in patients with TB.

The project will be funded through a grant to the Institut Pasteur from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

"We are excited to collaborate with the Institut Pasteur on this important Gates Foundation-funded research program," Ralph McDade, president of Myriad RBM, said in a statement. "We believe that TruCulture can help to stratify TB patients with latent versus active disease. This will lead to the optimization of treatments and provide better support for vaccine clinical trials. If we are successful, TruCulture may prove to be useful in a multitude of field-based, point-of-care applications, leading to improved patient care."

The project comes on the heels of more good news for Myriad, as last month the Salt Lake City, UT-based company won FDA approval for its companion diagnostic test for AstraZeneca's ($AZN) ovarian cancer drug Lynparza. The company's BRACAnalysis test looks at mutations in BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes in blood samples to identify which patients are a good fit for the drug, and is the first diagnostic approved for use with a PARP inhibitor.

Meanwhile, Myriad continues to ink companion diagnostics deals to increase its market share. In March 2014, the company struck a deal with oncology biotech Tesaro to use its cancer test to screen for tumor types that may respond to PARP inhibitors such as niraparib, a Phase III candidate in ovarian cancer and breast cancer in-licensed from Merck ($MRK) in 2012. In November, Myriad and pharma giant AbbVie ($ABBV) expanded an existing companion diagnostics deal to use Myriad's Tumor BRACAnalysis test alongside AbbVie's veliparib to help detect breast cancer.

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