LA JOLLA, Calif.—Stratagene and the Sidney Kimmel Cancer Center (SKCC) announced in mid-April a licensing agreement covering patents and related technology developed by SKCC researcher Dr. Gennadi Glinsky, under which Stratagene will produce diagnostic tests for prostate and breast cancers. The deal is the first formal agreement between Stratagene and SKCC.
Financial terms of the exclusive agreement were not disclosed, but Dr. Joseph A. Sorge, Stratagene's president and CEO, says it will extend for 18-20 years, the life of the patents. "The most exciting part is that it offers a new technology for helping people who potentially have cancer with choosing or helping their physicians to choose the right therapy for them," says Sorge.
Glinsky's methods, according to Sorge, allow Stratagene to take thousands of genes and single out "primary gene components that are most informative for differentiating the disease from the healthy state." Stratagene found Glinsky's techniques attractive because they dovetail with its quantitative PCR (QPCR) platform, which Sorge says is "suitable for looking at a dozen or several dozen genes simultaneously. And it gives very precise output." Microarrays, by comparison, can look at thousands of genes but cost more than QPCR, which Sorge describes as "the foundation of Stratagene's molecular diagnostics efforts."
Glinsky also sees synergy and calls Stratagene "an ideal company because they have their own independent line of instrumentation" plus products for making kits. Stratagene will translate into the QPCR method algorithms related to genetic signatures that Glinsky has researched for 25 years. His cross-species translational genomics research accelerated about five years ago when he began using microarrays. "Most of this discovery happened because we are able to study cancer in an unbiased way," he says. A National Cancer Institute grant, received four years ago for prostate cancer research, also contributed to his findings.
The test kit market is large, says Sorge, citing one million annual cancer deaths in the United States. Five to 10 million patients receive biopsy tests annually, he says, estimating that breast and prostate cancer tests account for roughly one million biopsies. With each test costing $300-$400, Sorge expects robust financial returns. The tests will look at RNA in samples to determine the presence of cancer and the potential of malignancy. Stratagene hopes to offer tests to reference labs within one or two years; FDA-approved tests could be in hospitals and clinics within three to five years. "All of these discoveries are great, but they will be real and true only after they have been validated in clinical trails," says Glinsky.