Moving to multicenter

Aushon BioSystems and Peking University Cancer Hospital collaborate on diagnostic biomarkers for liver metastases of colorectal cancer

Lloyd Dunlap
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BILLERICA, Mass.—Aushon BioSystems Inc., a provider ofmultiplex immunoassay products and services, has signed a letter of intent toenter into a diagnostic development collaboration with Peking University CancerHospital (PUCH) in Beijing, China.
The primary goal of the collaboration is to developpredictive diagnostic markers for liver metastases of colorectal cancerutilizing Aushon's proprietary suite of protein biomarker detectiontechnologies and stratification biomarkers for radio-chemotherapy patients. Aspart of the deal, PUCH and Aushon will negotiate an agreement to grant Aushonexclusive rights In North America and Europe to certain intellectual propertygenerated from the collaboration. 
Aushon serves "nearly all of the leading pharmaceuticalcompanies," notes Joe Blanchard, the company's COO, and he adds that theserelationships were key to the decision to collaborate with PUCH.
"Increasingly, multicenter trials include Asia and ourpharma clients had need for assistance. They urged us to form Asianrelationships," Blanchard says.
Aushon's sample testing service has a menu of more than 300protein biomarkers and its high-throughput CLIA-certified lab tests "tens ofthousands of patient samples annually," according to Blanchard. Aushon alsorecently announced its partnership with LightArray Biotech, a drug developmentservice company located in Wuxi, China, which will enable Aushon to provide itsmultiplex biomarker products and services to pharmaceutical clients in China.
The PUCH research will be conducted under the leadership ofDr. Jin Gu of PUCH. Prof. Gu is a well-known expert and clinician on colorectalcancer and liver metastasis. He leads a team of scientists and physiciansinvestigating the mechanisms of colorectal cancer metastasis including theidentification of biomarkers to predict which patients may develop metastaticdisease in the liver. Gu has established a large library of patient samples, aswell as extensive clinical and post-surgery follow-up data that he and hisstaff have accumulated over the past several years. From 2000 to 2007, PUCHcompleted 76 clinical trials, of which 52 were domestic clinical trials, 10international multicenter clinical trials and 14 clinical trials for medicalequipment. There are currently 35 domestic clinical trials, 11 internationalmulticenter clinical trials and four clinical trials for medical equipmenttaking place at PUCH.
"We look forward to the opportunity to collaborate withAushon on this critical clinical research program," says Gu. "Aushon'stechnology has already received widespread market acceptance with leadingpharmaceutical companies due to its proven reliability and performance inlate-stage clinical trials, and has the key attributes we identified for amultiplex diagnostic platform. We are very optimistic that this partnershipwill lead to the discovery and development of predictive diagnostic markers forprimary colorectal cancer metastases in liver, and establishment of newtreatment strategies to improve outcomes for our patients."
"We believe Aushon's technology and expertise are ideallysuited for this diagnostic development program and expect that this will be thefirst of several such technical collaborations with PUCH and other leadingresearch institutions in Asia," Blanchard adds. He estimates the U.S. oncologyprotein biomarker market at more than $300 million, with the worldwide marketat about $650 million and annual growth at 17 percent.
The Aushon-PUCH collaboration was facilitated by the U.S.Chinese Anti-Cancer Association (USCACA) whose director, Li Yan, has knownBlanchard for several years.
"When Li contacted me about this potential collaboration, wewere fortunate we already had the relationship with LightArray in place. Basedon the trends we've seen and the investments pharmaceutical companies aremaking in China, we expect this region to become an increasingly importantmarket for Aushon," Blanchard says.

Lloyd Dunlap

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