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Partnership Looks to Expand Access to Biomarker Discovery Platform

By Zachary Brennan+

14-Aug-2013
Last updated on 19-Aug-2013 at 09:31 GMT

Agilent Technologies and SomaLogic will partner to expand the dissemination of Soma’s proteomic assay to at least five academic and contract research centers by the end of the year as demand for the tool has skyrocketed among biopharma companies.

Biomarkers are most frequently proteins measured in the blood. The creation of antibody assays has been a bottleneck in biomarker progress due to the cost, time and effort required but targeted proteomics is an emerging technology that aims to facilitate disease biomarker development, according to a study published by the National Center for Biotechnology Information .

SomaLogic’s proteomic tool can help discover previously undetected biomarkers for drug discovery, preclinical and clinical drug development, and clinical diagnostics without the same constraints that hampered antibody assays and mass spectrometry.

The SOMAscan proteomic assay uses the company’s proprietary protein-capture reagents to detect and measure up to 1129 protein analytes across about eight logs of concentration in as little as 50 µl of biological sample. With a throughput of nearly a thousand samples per week, the tool can biopharma companies with millions of data points in a short time, Fintan Steele, PhD, an executive at the company told BioPharma-Reporter.com.

He noted that the company is adding between 500 and 600 analytes every year and could add as many as another 1000 this year.

The SOMAscan assay measures native proteins in complex matrices by transforming each individual protein concentration into a corresponding SOMAmer concentration, which is then quantified by standard DNA techniques such as microarrays or qPCR.

"This agreement will greatly enhance our current microarray offerings by expanding them into the rapidly growing proteomics market," Jacob Thaysen, VP and general manager of Agilent's genomics division, said.

The technology has only been available for two years and Steele said demand from large biopharmaceutical companies and CROs is skyrocketing and the company can no longer afford to keep up with demand as a fee for service tool. The company has previously partnered with Quest Diagnostics and Novartis on projects.

The first five large academic or CRO centers will be provided with a clone of the assay and training on the specifics of using the tool, though the financial details of how that will play out have yet to be determined, Steele said. He said the number of centers may also expand to as many as 30, although there will not be a fixed limit.

SomaLogic’s Future

Colorado-based SomaLogic’s focus right now is on becoming a diagnostics company, Steele said, noting that in about seven years the company is looking to develop a single blood test that will give patients “a read out of what’s going on in their bodies and that gets rid of a lot of the one-off tests.

When you think about how disruptive that could be,” Steele said the company, which employs about 100, won’t even have to charge much to bring make a return on its investments.

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