In This Issue...

Abbott, Idera Partner on B-Cell Lymphoma Co-Diagnostic

Abbott and Idera Pharmaceuticals have joined forces to develop a companion diagnostic test for use in Idera's clinical development program for IMO-8400, a drug for the potential treatment of two forms of B-cell lymphoma characterized by the presence of the oncogenic mutation MYD88 L265P. This mutation can be identified in approximately 90% of patients with Waldenström's macroglobulinemia and approximately 30% of patients with the ABC sub-type of diffuse large B-cell lymphoma, and plays a key role in activating the Toll-like receptor (TLR) pathways targeted by IMO-8400. Under the terms of the agreement, Abbott will develop a test using polymerase chain reaction technology to identify the presence of MYD88 L265P in tumor biopsy samples with high sensitivity and specificity.

"Research by Idera and by independent investigators has established TLR antagonism as a potentially promising and novel therapeutic approach for patients with B-cell malignancies harboring the MYD88 L265P mutation," said Lou Brenner, MD, senior vice president and chief medical officer of Idera. "This companion diagnostic will be an important tool for the clinical community in evaluating whether their patients are potential candidates for IMO-8400 therapy for the treatment of these genetically defined forms of B-cell lymphoma."

Quest Takes Over Steward Health Care System's Outreach Laboratory Testing Services

Quest Diagnostics has acquired the outreach laboratory service operations of Steward Health Care System, New England's largest community-based accountable care organization (ACO) and one of the nation's largest Pioneer ACOs. This transaction is an extension of a previous partnership with Steward that began in 2010, when Steward acquired the Caritas Christi Health System, an affiliate of which (Caritas Medical Laboratories) was already owned by Quest. Under this new arrangement, affected physicians, patients, and other providers will have the ability to access Quest's 200 patient service centers in New England as well as broader clinical testing and healthcare information technologies that connect with electronic health records used by the Steward network. Quest will also provide outreach laboratory testing services to physicians, nursing homes, and other providers previously serviced by Steward. The financial terms of this transaction have not been disclosed.

IBM, Coriell, CareKinesis Join Forces to Reduce Adverse Drug Reactions

In collaboration with IBM and CareKinesis, Coriell Life Sciences is launching an initiative with Program for All Inclusive Care of the Elderly's more than 5,000 senior clients to help enhance medication safety by better understanding how high-risk individuals respond to specific medications and drug treatments. The partnership aims to accomplish this goal by using a scalable, cloud-based solution built by Coriell and IBM to safely and cost-effectively store genetic data from elderly patients in Coriell's GeneVault. Under the strict privacy controls of the interconnected CareKinesis and Coriell Life Sciences systems, physicians, healthcare providers, and medical experts will then be able to access a patient's genomic interpretation via any web-connected device. Using this information, they can determine whether a medication will cause any adverse reactions for a patient or be at odds with other drugs the patient is currently taking.

"This approach of treating conditions ‘one at a time' even if the treatments might conflict with one another has been common in medicine, in part because little information exists to guide practitioners in how to consider this problem, weigh alternatives, and identify different options. Better understanding of an individual's genome can lead to a more effective dosage regimen," said Scott Megill, CEO of Coriell Life Sciences.

Berg, Medical University of South Carolina Team Up to Discover Lupus Biomarkers

Berg and the Medical University of South Carolina, a leading lupus research center, have entered a collaboration to identify new therapeutic pathways and potential biomarkers to treat lupus. Current lupus therapies are effective for approximately half of all patients, but these treatments only partially control the disease and often lead to harmful side effects such as infertility, infection, and cardiovascular disease. In this partnership, Berg's Interrogative Biology platform will be applied to several serum, urine, and kidney data points from both lupus patients and controls followed in the Medical University of South Carolina's rheumatology clinics. The two organizations will analyze the pathophysiology of lupus using the metabolomics, lipidomics, and proteomics data from tissue samples, expanding the search for a biomarker to predict the onset and progression of the disease. The partnership hopes that any discovered biomarkers can then be used to create safer personalized medicine for the disease. Previously, Berg's Interrogative Biology platform has been used successfully for the discovery of targets, therapeutics, and biomarkers for diverse diseases including cancer, metabolic diseases, and neurodevelopment disorders.

EKF Diagnostics Buys DiaSpect and Selah Genomics

EKF Diagnostics has acquired DiaSpect Medical AB and Selah Genomics. Sweden-based DiaSpect manufactures desktop hemoglobin analyzers, while Selah is a service provider that supplies molecular diagnostic tests for the development of personalized medicine. EKF plans to integrate the patented DiaSpect hemoglobin-system product line into its existing portfolio of hemoglobin analyzers, which includes the Hemo Control and hand-held, portable STAT-Site instruments. As for the acquisition of Selah, this transaction enables EKF to extend its molecular diagnostics offerings to support healthcare providers and the pharmaceutical industry with advanced molecular and genomic diagnostic services. Selah's service provides doctors with a sample kit that enables them to mail in sealed swabs from patients for analysis. The resulting data can then be used to develop personalized treatment plans. "These aquisitions provide us with a huge opportunity to establish ourselves as a leading global player in point of care hemoglobin testing," said Julian Baines, CEO of EKF, "and to consider our position in molecular diagnostics and personalized medicine, an area which we consider to be one of the most exciting in diagnostics."

Chembio, Alere End Distribution Agreement for STAT-PAK HIV Assays

In 2006, Chembio Diagnostics, which specializes in point-of-care tests for infectious diseases, granted Alere the exclusive right to distribute its STAT-PAK HIV assays in the U.S. market under Alere's Clearview brand. Effective June 3, Alere's U.S. distribution rights for STAT-PAK will be terminated in accordance with the terms of the agreement. Following the effective date, Chembio will begin marketing and selling its FDA-approved and CLIA-waived HIV 1/2 STAT-PAK assay. The company also plans to build a sales and marketing team to serve U.S. customers and distribution partners.