Under the terms of the amendment, ExonHit will gain commercial rights on the diagnostic kits developed through the partnership and bioMerieux will have a greater flexibility to initiate new research and development projects in that field.
The partnership, initiated in October 2005, is based on ExonHit's gene expression analysis expertise and intellectual property, and on bioMerieux's know-how in the field of in vitro diagnostics. Its goal is to develop DNA microarrays to detect cancer markers in blood samples. DNA microarrays are perfectly suitable to detect many nucleic acids allowing the identification of multigenic diseases such as cancers.
Three programs to develop blood-based cancer diagnostics are currently underway: the first is on breast cancer for which a prospective study is ongoing, the second is aimed at colorectal cancers, and the third, targeting prostate cancer, was initiated in January 2007.
As of now, the commercial rights granted will allow ExonHit to market the diagnostic kits developed through the partnership to pharmaceutical companies, or to hospitals taking part in clinical studies, in order to help them recruit patients for their clinical studies.
"This amendment is a major step forward in ExonHit's development because it allows us to consider generating our own source of revenues from products based on our technology which are issued from the collaboration" declared Bruno Tocque, Chairman of the Management Board of ExonHit. "To this end, we are modifying our laboratories and our processes in order to best meet the pharmaceutical industry's specific requirements."