Exonhit, Pfizer collaborate on Alzheimer’s biomarkers

Early-stage collaboration will focus on identifying biomarkers and disease progression

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PARIS—Exonhit, a French biotech company, and Pfizer Inc.have entered into a research agreement for the identification of newAlzheimer's disease biomarkers.
Under the agreement, the companies will make use ofGenome-Wide SpliceArray (GWSA) platform by Exonhit to study Alzheimer'smolecular markers associated with clinical parameters.
Exonhit's SpliceArray platform is microarray design thatincorporates a specific probe configuration, enabling monitoring of RNA splicevariants in humans, mice and rats.
The research will emphasize the identification of diseaseprogression and other biomarkers that can segregate healthy elderly controls,patients with mild cognitive impairment (MCI) and patients with Alzheimer's.
The financial details of the deal were not disclosed. Pfizerwill provide test samples for the study from a number of subjects in each ofthese three groups over a period of time.
Pfizer spokeswoman Gwendolyn E. Fisher says the pharma iscommitted to making a number of investments to evaluate technology platformswith the potential to identify new biomarkers of Alzheimer's disease.
"Our collaboration with ExonHit is one such example of thiscommitment," she says. "We believe there is potential in Exonhit's Genome-WideSpliceArray platform."
Dr. Loïc Maurel, president of Exonhit's management board,says it is hoped that the research will identify new Alzheimer's biomarkers andhence lead to the potential development of prognostic tests for patients.
"This announcement further demonstrates the interest in thepotential of our GWSA discovery platform," says Maurel. "We are excited tocollaborate with Pfizer and we hope that this study will identify newAlzheimer's biomarkers and hence lead to the potential development ofprognostic tests for patients."
Fisher explains that the agreement is a very early-stageresearch collaboration, so it is premature to determine what it impact it couldhave on Pfizer's pipeline. 
"The discovery and validation of new Alzheimer's diseasebiomarkers is important for Pfizer's effort to bring forward new treatmentoptions for Alzheimer's patients as well as for the development of improveddiagnostics," she says. "We have several Alzheimer's compounds in clinicaldevelopment."
Moreover, Pfizer is increasing its emphasis on precisionmedicine, she adds.
"We are dedicated to further understanding, discovering anddeveloping agents and tools to better match specific patients with treatmentsfor increased benefit from selected therapies," Fisher notes. "This approach isexemplified by Pfizer's recent launch of Xalkori, an oncology medicine."
Looking forward, there will be several benchmarks to accessshort- and long-term success of the agreement. 
"An important measure will be whether we will be able todiscover and validate any biomarkers for Alzheimer's," Fisher says. "But alsoimportant will be our learnings during the process."

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