DiagnoCure, a Quebec City company that sells cancer diagnostics, has acquired Worcester, MA-based Catalyst Oncology and its lead prognostic tests for breast, colon and potentially other cancers. DiagnoCure, which will pay $3 million upfront followed by future milestone payments, will take over development of the tests, including additional clinical studies.
The acquired tests already have been validated in multiple clinical studies involving patients with five tumor types, including breast and colon. Results have shown the tests to be strong indicators for a patient’s risk of disease recurrence, as well as predictors of response to certain cancer therapies, such as tamoxifen or traditional chemotherapy.
The tests measure the level of activated tyrosine phosphorylated Shc protein and p66 Shc protein in tissue specimens. The Shc proteins are involved in a number of well documented cellular pathways that are correlated with tumor aggressiveness across many types of cancer.
Accurate cancer diagnostics are in demand: Already in 2007, 178,480 new cases and 40,460 deaths have been reported from breast cancer in the U.S. It is the most frequently diagnosed cancer and the second leading cause of death from cancer in women. The global survival rate over five years is 89% but falls to 26% when breast cancer has spread to distant organs.
DiagnoCure, a 13-year-old company listed on the Toronto Stock Exchange, is currently preparing to launch the first GC-C-based molecular test for the management of colorectal cancer. In 2003, the company partnered with Gen-Probe for the development and commercialization of a second-generation test for PCA3,
DiagnoCure’s proprietary genetic marker highly specific to prostate cancer. The test is now available in the U.S. and Europe.
The company has been open about its intention to acquire or in-license cancer biomarkers from both academic and commercial institutions. Of this latest deal, CEO John Schafer said in a statement, “This acquisition reflects the continuing execution of our focused M&A strategy, aimed at building a critical mass of high-value oncology diagnostic products.”