CLN Article

Industry Profiles

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Hasselt University Licenses Rheumatoid Arthritis Biomarkers to Inova

Inova Diagnostics and Hasselt University in Belgium have inked an exclusive, worldwide license agreement for biomarkers developed at Hasselt for the diagnosis of rheumatoid arthritis (RA). Hasselt has discovered 14 novel candidate autoantibody markers that could help identify the approximately one-third of RA patients—including those in the early stage of the disease—who test negative for the two biomarkers that are currently used in RA diagnosis.

"Delaying diagnosis of RA can impact the quality of life of affected patients. New biomarkers can aid in achieving better outcomes based on appropriate treatment at an earlier stage of this disabling disease," said Michael Mahler, PhD, vice president of Research and Development at Inova Diagnostics. "We believe that the markers identified by the world class immunology researchers at Hasselt University, combined with the assay development expertise at Inova Diagnostics, should result in an enhanced capability to accurately diagnose RA patients who are seronegative by existing markers."

Quest Buys ConVerge Diagnostic Services

Quest has acquired ConVerge Diagnostic Services, a full-service laboratory that provides clinical, cytology, and anatomic pathology testing services to patients, physicians, and hospitals in New England. The deal includes ConVerge's laboratory in Peabody, Mass., and its patient service centers in Massachusetts, New Hampshire, and Connecticut. For now, ConVerge will operate as a wholly-owned subsidiary of Quest Diagnostics and its laboratory will operate as part of Quest Diagnostics' national laboratory network. Over time, though, Quest plans to fold the ConVerge laboratory into the laboratory facility that Quest is building in Marlborough, Mass.

"As a regional leader in women's health that is also recognized for customer service, medical expertise, and innovation, ConVerge is a strong strategic fit with our business," said Steve Rusckowski, president and CEO of Quest. "The addition of ConVerge to the Quest family will extend the range of diagnostic information services patients and providers can access in the region while also combining the considerable medical leadership of both companies to spur new innovations that improve patient outcomes."

Earlier in 2013, Quest acquired three other laboratory businesses. These include UMass Memorial Medical Center's clinical and anatomic pathology outreach laboratory businesses based in Worcester, Mass.; Concentra, a Tennessee-based toxicology and clinical laboratory business; and Dignity Health's lab-related clinical outreach operations in California and Nevada.

Financial terms of the ConVerge acquisition were not disclosed.

Ventana and Incyte Partner on Cancer Co-Diagnostics

Ventana Medical Systems has entered an agreement to support Incyte Corporation's personalized cancer drug development with its expertise in companion diagnostics and immunohistochemistry technology platforms, as well as its worldwide customer support network. Under the terms of this collaboration, Ventana will develop companion diagnostic tests for Incyte's oncology drug programs, starting with the Incyte indoleamine 2,3-dioxygenase 1 (IDO1) inhibitor program. Preclinical studies have shown that inhibiting the immune regulatory enzyme IDO1 increases the body's anti-tumor immune response as well as the efficacy of various chemotherapeutic agents. Now that Incyte's IDO1 inhibitor INCB24360 has advanced to multiple Phase 2 studies, the company has decided that this program is a logical place to begin incorporating potential companion diagnostics. 

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