TcLand Expression is teaming up with the Hospital Vall d-Hebron Research Institute (HVIR) in Spain to develop a biomarker-based assay for predicting individual patients’ responses to TNFα blocker therapy for rheumatoid arthritis (RA). The collaboration agreement gives TcLand exclusive, worldwide rights to HVIR’s IP covering response-related biomarkers discovered by the Institute’s Sara Marsal, M.D., director of the Grup de Recerca de Reumatologia.
Dr. Marsal’s team described the discovery of an eight-gene expression profile predicting the response to infliximab last year in a Plos One paper titled “An Eight-Gene Blood Expression Profile Predicts the Response to Infliximab in Rheumatoid Arthritis”. In the paper the authors conclude, “The present eight-gene predictor model for infliximab treatment can be a powerful tool for therapy individualization in RA.”
Commenting on the partnership with HIVR, Dr. Marsal remarks, “We are sure that with this powerful alliance and their experience in developing biomarkers, we will reach the ultimate goal of personalizing this treatment in RA. This predictor system will reduce the socioeconomic cost associated with these expensive therapies and, above all, will improve the quality of life of RA patients.”
TcLand is dedicated to the development of biomarkers for use primarily in immunological settings such as transplantation and autoimmune disorders. The firm’s deal with the HVIR complements an agreement signed in May with Hospices Civils de Lyon hospital group, centered on the development of biomarkers for predicting the response to biologics in RA. Also in May TcLand and its academic collaborators were awarded €450,000 (about $557,000) in research funding by the French National Research Agency to support a companion diagnostics program in RA.
The company’s in-house research also includes a program focused on the development of biomarkers for predicting the response of RA patients to anakinra. Biomarker development projects in the fields of liver and kidney transplantation as well as Crohn disease are also ongoing. Both the liver and kidney transplantation assays are projected for launch during 2011, the firm states.