New deal

ExonHit and bioMérieux amend their partnership

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PARIS—ExonHit Therapeutics, in early January, signed an amendment to its strategic partnership with bioMérieux in the field of cancer diagnostics, under which ExonHit will gain commercial rights on the diagnostic kits developed through the partnership and bioMérieux will have a greater flexibility to initiate new research and development projects in that field.As of now, the commercial rights granted will allow ExonHit to market the diagnostic kits developed through the partnership to pharmaceutical companies, or to hospitals taking part in clinical studies, to help them recruit patients for their clinical studies. "This amendment is a major step forward in ExonHit's development because it allows us to consider generating our own source of revenues from products based on our technology which are issued from the collaboration," declared Bruno Tocqué, chairman of the management board of ExonHit, in a news release about the amended partnership. "To this end, we are modifying our laboratories and our processes in order to best meet the pharmaceutical industry's specific requirements." "When we made the deal originally, ExonHit was a privately owned company and we didn't have the ability to initiate new programs," adds Philippe Rousseau, ExonHit's CFO. "But that has changed, and we wanted to have more flexibility and we wanted to be able to bring the technology we've already worked so hard on to the pharmaceutical industry more broadly."The alliance between the two companies goes back to 2003 in connection with the development of a diagnostic test for breast cancer, and a strategic partnership was forged in October 2005, with colon, prostate and lung cancers added to the mix with a fifth program to cover an as-yet-to-be-determined target. The two companies came together based on ExonHit's gene expression analysis expertise and intellectual property, and on bioMérieux's skill with in vitro diagnostics. The overriding goal is to develop DNA microarrays to detect cancer markers in blood samples.Three of the five programs are already underway. The first is on breast cancer, for which a prospective study is ongoing. The second is aimed at colorectal cancers and the third, which began in January 2007, targets prostate cancer. DDNeditconnect: e020814

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