HILDEN, Germany & VIENNA, Austria—QIAGEN N.V. has announced that it has secured an exclusive, worldwide license to the biomarker calreticulin (CALR) from CeMM Vienna, the Research Center for Molecular Medicine of the Austrian Academy of Sciences. Scientists at CeMM Vienna led the team that discovered the presence of the CALR protein in myeloproliferative neoplasms (MPNs), a set of blood cancers. QIAGEN intends to develop a molecular diagnostic test for identifying CALR mutations in order to aid in better prognosis and help guide disease management. The license also includes potential use of the biomarker in next-generation sequencing applications. No financial details were disclosed.
A recent paper titled “Somatic Mutations of Calreticulin in Myeloproliferative Neoplasms,” which appeared in the New England Journal of Medicine in December 2013, reported that patients who present with the CALR mutation generally have a more favorable disease outcome, including a lower risk of thrombosis, and longer overall survival when compared to patients with other biomarkers such as the Janus kinase 2 (JAK2) mutation. The JAK2 V617F mutation, another biomarker for which QIAGEN has a license, is present in approximately 75 percent of patients with MPNs, and a CALR diagnostic test is expected to be highly complementary to QIAGEN’s JAK2 kits.
“This novel biomarker offers an exciting opportunity to broaden QIAGEN’s market-leading position in developing molecular diagnostics for the whole range of blood disorders. Together, the JAK2 and CALR biomarkers give us the ability to deliver personalized insights regarding diagnosis, prognosis and disease management for patients with myeloprofilerative disorders,” Peer M. Schatz, CEO of QIAGEN, commented in a statement. “We are now looking forward to developing clinically proven tests for detection of CALR mutations on Rotor-Gene Q MDx, which is part of our industry-leading QIAsymphony family of automated platforms. CALR and JAK2 could also be promising targets for companion diagnostics as future drug candidates for these blood disorders may be linked to these biomarkers.”
It is estimated that roughly 15 percent of MPNs feature mutations of the CALR protein. MPNs are the result of an overproduction of blood cells, which can lead to a variety of issues such as thrombosis. There are six types of MPNs, including polycythemia vera, essential thrombocythemia, chronic myelomonocytic leukemia, chronic neutrophilic leukemia, chronic eosinophilic leukemia and idiopathic myelofibrosis. All types of these blood cancers have the potential to evolve into acute leukemia.
“We estimate that up to 3 million people worldwide suffer from myeloproliferative neoplasms, and discovery of the CALR mutation by our CeMM and Medical University of Vienna research teams is a very important finding for the benefit of these patients,” Giulio Superti-Furga, scientific director of CeMM, said in a press release. “We are pleased to license the CALR biomarker to QIAGEN. The development of a standardized test will enable physicians to provide improved patient care. At the same time, our researchers will continue to advance the understanding of these diseases and to focus on developing novel treatment options. CeMM is constantly investing in basic research aimed at obtaining new insights in potential diagnostics and therapeutics.”