ExonHit and bioMirieux have announced that scientific data generated in the detection of breast cancer could well lead to the development of novel diagnostic tests that will enable the early detection of breast cancer from blood.
Such diagnostic tests could enable clinicians to make a better therapeutic decision more quickly, thus improving the chances of successfully treating patients of a cancer that affects
It is estimated that in 2006 about 212,920 new cases of invasive breast cancer will be diagnosed among women in the United States. At this time there are slightly over 2 million breast cancer survivors in the United States. Women living in North America have the highest rate of breast cancer in the world.
The breast cancer therapeutics market is anticipated to grow from its current size of $5.9 million (€5 million) to $11.5 million by 2011, with a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 9.8 per cent.
Anti-hormonal therapies used to treat breast cancer in women and prostate cancer in men currently totals $4.8 billion a year and will rise to $5.5 billion by 2014, an annual growth rate of 0.9 per cent as key drugs in the class are coming off patent, and new ones emerge in the pipeline.
Scientific data, which will be presented on April 4, 2006 at the 97th Annual AACR (American Association for Cancer Research) meeting in Washington DC, USA, is expected to assist in the development of these novel molecular diagnostics in cancer.
These tests will be based on ExonHit's expertise in identifying specific genetic signatures from alternative RNA splicing associated with diseases and will capitalise on bioMirieux's know-how in developing and commercialising diagnostic tests.
The scientific data demonstrated that the panel of genetic signatures identified by ExonHit could clearly distinguish healthy women from those with early stage breast cancer.
A total of 54 genes were able to correctly classify, with accuracy of 86.7 per cent, a group of 92 women, 55 with stage I/II breast cancer and 37 healthy women.
"These results provide proof that by using a characterised set of molecular markers in blood it can be possible to develop a diagnostic test for breast cancer," said Bruno Tocqui, President of the Management Board of >ExonHit Therapeutics.
The ExonHit and bioMerieux collaboration in breast cancer diagnostics was initiated in 2003 and was extended in 2005 for six additional years expanding the agreement to other cancers.
In return for its research efforts under this collaboration, ExonHit will receive research and development payments from bioMirieux as well as development milestone payments for each diagnostic project. ExonHit will also receive royalties on the sales of marketed products.
"Early detection of breast cancer can improve the chances of successful treatment and recovery," said Dr Christophe Mirieux, director of Research and Development and Medical Affairs at >bioMirieux.
"Today's results offer promising prospects to address as early as possible this disease and for cancer research in general. In conjunction with other diagnostic methods, these blood tests will enable a better therapeutic decision earlier"
To date, mammographic screening is the most reliable method to detect breast cancer in asymptomatic patients, but this often fails to detect tumours that are less than 5 mm in size.
In addition, mammograms of women with dense breast tissue are difficult to interpret. Finally, when an abnormality has been detected, further tests involving invasive steps are needed to confirm the presence of a cancer.
Currently, the WHO recommends that women over 50 undergo a screening test once every two years.
This recommendation is implemented in many countries, such as France. In the United States, the National Cancer Institute recommends annual screening for women aged between 40 and 74 years.
However, in reality, it is estimated that only a third of the targeted population attends the screenings.