In assessing the extent of methylation in patients, activity of the MGMT gene can be controlled. Down-regulation of the MGMT gene may be a significant predictor of brain tumour response to treatment with alkylating agents like temozolomide.
Methylation leading to MGMT gene down-regulation has been reported to correlate with prolonged survival of glioblastoma multiforme (GBM), a form of malignant brain cancer, treated with alkylating agents.
Under the terms of the agreement, Schering-Plough receives a worldwide, non-exclusive license from Oncomethylome Sciences to use its pharmacogenomic assays and technology to evaluate methylation status of the MGMT gene in GBM patients treated with Temodar
The collaboration will initially focus on GBM brain cancer, with the possibility to expand the scope to other types of cancers and, potentially, other Schering-Plough products.
Oncomethylome Sciences will receive an upfront license payment, milestone payments and sample processing fees from Schering-Plough. Additional financial terms of the agreement were not being disclosed.
The clinical benefit of Temodar is well established for the treatment of certain types of brain tumours. However the pharmacogenomics of this drug are still an area, which requires additional research in order to fully optimise Temodar therapy.
Temozolomide is an oral, cytotoxic alkylating agent. Cytotoxic agents are designed to prevent the replication of cells that divide rapidly, including those in tumours.
In the US, Temodar (temozolomide) capsules are approved for use in combination with radiotherapy, and then as maintenance for the treatment of adult patients with newly diagnosed glioblastoma multiforme (GBM).
In patients with refractory anaplastic astrocytoma (AA), another form of brain tumour, Temodar is indicated for use in adult patients who have experienced disease progression on a drug regimen containing nitrosourea and procarbazine.
Glioblastoma multiforme (GBM) is a rapidly growing neuroglia cell tumour of the central nervous system, most often located in the cerebrum.
It is the most common and deadliest type of primary brain tumour. The annual incidence of GBM is four to five cases per 100,000 persons, with 8,000 to 10,000 new cases diagnosed per year in North America.