This article was originally published in Start Up
New hunters of diagnostic biomarkers hope to improve cancer diagnosis. They envision biomarkers that will allow more accurate disease-stage monitoring, more effective choice of therapy and, ultimately, the development of therapies themselves. Despite the plethora of new technologies, tools, and genomic data, however, cancer-specific markers have provent obe difficult beasts to catch.
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An ovarian cancer assay based on protein pattern analysis is arousing excitement in a field all too often met with disappointment. Given initial excitement over the test and protein pattern analysis in general, business activity is likely to follow shortly. The NCI, FDA and a start-up, Correlogic Systems, are developing the test and taking it to large clinical trials this summer. Correlogic claims to have broad patents on pattern analysis for diagnostic purposes, a contention that is sure to lead to controversy, given the apparently high stakes.
With its acquisition of Pro-Duct Health, Cytyc is hoping to transfer its very successful performance with the ThinPrep Pap Test to the field of ductal lavage for breast cancer risk assessment. Cytyc is paying $167.5 million for Pro-Duct, which has sales of less than $1 million. But Cytyc believes ductal lavage represents a multi-billion dollar opportunity with no direct competition. Physicians are excited about the procedure--although they caution a lot of data needs to be compiled to determine the utility of information provided by ductal lavage.
Cogs aims to develop a diagnostic kit that will enable detection of breast and ovarian cancer, when the disease is still at a very early stage of develoment. No firm has yet achieved such a feat, which is one reason why a woman dies every 11 minutes from one of these two cancers.