Qiagen is acquiring a minority equity stake in Alacris Theranostics as part of a deal that gives Qiagen exclusive option rights to all the German start-up firm’s discovered biomarkers. Alacris was founded by researchers at the Max Planck Institute for Molecular Genetics (MPI-MG) and Harvard Medical School to commercialize a modeling system known as ModCell™ for analyzing clinical sample data based on next-gen and other whole-genome sequencing technology. Alacris claims the technology allows users to identify and select biomarkers that could prove useful in treatment decision making and generate marker sets for stratifying potential patient populations for clinical trials.
Qiagen’s access to IP developed by Alacris will allow it to format biomarkers into real-time PCR-based assays for commercializing either within its pharmaceutical development assay portfolio, or for the Therascreen molecular diagnostics portfolio used with the new QIAsymphony RGQ platform.
“The genome-driven approach of Alacris complements our strategy very well since it facilitates a clinically relevant selection of molecular targets from vast amounts of genetic and clinical data,” states Peer Schatz, Qiagen CEO. “Qiagen intends to develop such molecular targets into assays for our QIAsymphony platform to personalize treatments and improve outcomes for patients. Our strategic investment in Alacris expands Qiagen’s existing broad biomarker discovery and validation initiatives and is designed to expand our QIAsymphony-based personalized healthcare and pharma development assay portfolio.”
Alacris’ technology hinges on a systems biology technology developed by MPI-MG, which is used in combination with deep sequencing to identify biomarkers indicative of specific drug response/non-response, and to help stratify patients for clinical trials of specific new drug treatments. The firm already markets its therapy guidance products to cancer clinics and is making its clinical trials stratification technology available to the pharma industry.