CAMBRIDGE, Mass.—Setting its sights on delivering innovativeprognostic and predictive assays for early-stage, tissue-based cancers, a developmentand commercialization partnership has been forged between Metamark Genetics, aprivately held oncology molecular diagnostic company, and Munich, Germany-basedDefiniens, a leading health, imaging and intelligence firm.
The agreement, announced June 30, calls for Metamark tocombine its proprietary multiplex protein detection platform with the imageanalysis technology developed jointly with Definiens.
If successful, the net result of this American-Germancollaboration will enable scientists to detect tiny tumors before aggressivetreatment is necessary. This earlier-than-ever diagnosis is not onlylife-saving, but also life-changing in this age of personalized medicine.
"Definiens is a clear world leader in quantitativedigital pathology and in the analysis of biomarkers in tissue image data," EricDevroe, vice president of business and strategy development at Metamark, saidin a press release. "We see great synergy in combining Definiens' technologyand expertise with Metamark's unique understanding of tumor heterogeneity andinsight into the molecular drivers regulating tumor formation and aggression.We believe this partnership will enable us to co-develop and implement uniqueand important image analysis tools."
The partnership enables Metamark to bring "proprietarycontent, methods and insight into tumor biology," Devroe tells ddn.
"The end results of our multiplex immunofluorescent stainingwill be analyzed with custom tools jointly developed by the Metamark andDefiniens teams," he says.
When Metamark first came up with the idea, Definiens was itslogical choice as a partner.
"The Metamark team recognized Definiens as a clear leader inimage analysis software and approached Definiens," Devroe says.
Although prostate cancer has been associated with theimportance of early detection, the partnership is structured to broadly applyto cancer and is not limited to specific tumor types, he says.
"The two teams are developing the custom tools, whichMetamark will use for clinical validation of its diagnostic assays," Devroesays. "The ultimate goal is the validation and commercial delivery ofprognostic assays that will provide important customized, tumor-specificinformation that will enable physicians to guide their patients towards optimaltreatment choices at the time of diagnosis."
Metamark's particular strength lies in its quantitativediagnostic approach, which identifies and accounts for small regions ofmolecularly aggressive cancer cells within an otherwise indolent tumor. Thecompany is developing a portfolio of prognostic and predictive assays with theability to address the "heterogeneous" nature of tumors not onlybetween one patient and the next, but also within an individual patient'stumor.
Definiens has already made groundbreaking achievements inthe field of biomarker development based on its highly robust and scalableimage analysis framework that enables scientists and clinicians to rapidlyextract comprehensive biomarker and morphology expression profiles and toidentify a relevant subset of descriptors by correlating them against patientoutcomes, according to the company.
"Definiens is pleased to partner with MetamarkGenetics, and to incorporate our image and data analysis software technologyinto Metamark's pioneering oncology diagnostic offerings," ThomasColarusso, vice president of sales and operations at Definiens, said in a newsrelease. "The capability to provide detailed readouts from tissue analysisis opening up new gateways for developing diagnostic assays as we enter the ageof personalized medicine."