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OvaGene Oncology Licenses Gene-Based Technologies to Develop Novel Endometrial and Cervical Cancer Assays
Date:7/12/2010

IRVINE, Calif., July 12 /PRNewswire/ -- OvaGene Oncology Inc., a biotechnology company specializing in the development and commercialization of personalized DNA-based diagnostics for gynecologic cancer, announced today that it has completed license agreements with key Norwegian cancer researchers.  The agreements allow OvaGene to validate two new promising genomic technologies with the intention of developing these into clinical laboratory tests. Validation studies and the subsequent migration of both tests to the new OvaGene CLIA lab are expected to occur over the next twelve to eighteen months.

The first technology, licensed from the University of Bergen Tech Office BTO (Bergan, Norway), is a proprietary method for identifying high risk endometrial cancer patients diagnosed with early stage cancer.  Approximately 37,000 stage I or II endometrial cancer patients are diagnosed annually in the U.S.  Early stage cases are typically treated with surgery only but higher risk patients may be up-staged making them eligible to receive chemotherapy.  The BTO licensed technology has the ability to identify a molecular component in early stage patients linked with high risk.  

"If we are able to validate this set of molecular markers gynecologic oncologists will be better educated with regard to whom should be offered adjuvant therapy for early stage endometrial cancer," said Neil Finkler, M.D., OvaGene's Chief Medical Officer. "Presently, we use pathological factors to determine risk which can lead to over treatment of some groups of women with adjuvant therapy while not offering therapy to some that may benefit. Hopefully these molecular markers will allow us to better define who should be offered additional therapy and may also prove beneficial in our understanding of the role of a new class of drugs, namely pi3k inhibitors. "

The second technology, licensed from Medinnova (Oslo, Norway), is a proprietary method to determine chemoradiation resistance in cervical cancer. Cervical cancer affects approximately 11,000 women in the U.S. per year.  Currently, those patients are treated with surgery followed by radiation and platinum-based chemotherapy regimen.  The licensed technology allows OvaGene to test cervical cancer patients for chemoradiation resistance prior to the initiation of therapy.  If patients are determined to have a high risk of resistance based on the molecular assessment of the tumor, the physician can alter therapy such as including a non-platinum-based chemotherapy.  Further studies are planned to validate the technology's ability to predict chemoradiation resistance.

"Currently, stage 1B2 to IV cervical cancers are treated with radiation and platinum-based chemotherapy.  This standard therapy is also used for adjuvant treatment of cervical cancers with poor prognostic factors and positive nodes at time of radical surgery," commented Bill Ricketts, Ph.D., OvaGene's Chief Scientific Officer. "Knowing which cervical cancer patients will not respond to this standard treatment before starting therapy would allow the clinician the opportunity to offer alternative drug therapy up front rather than at time of recurrence thus potentially improving patient outcomes by avoiding treatment with ineffective therapies."

About BTO

Bergen Teknologioverforing AS (BTO) is located in Bergen at the west coast of Norway. BTO was founded December 2004 by the University of Bergen, Haukeland University Hospital and the Institute of Marine Research. BTO supports 8 research institutions in Bergen in the commercialisation of research results, and works proactively to inspire a culture for innovation. BTO's purpose is to be a centre of expertise, and on behalf of the owners and partners, secure, administer and refine intellectual property and other assets related to research results and research processes. BTO has a portfolio of 2800 researchers in a variety of disciplines. The company screens partner institutes for innovation on a regular basis. Several innovative technologies are in the pipeline or are already available for licensing.

About Medinnova

Medinnova is the Technology Transfer Office (TTO) for Oslo University Hospital and the other 10 public health enterprises in south east Norway.  Medinnova identifies marketable technologies, manages the patenting and outlicensing process to existing companies or start-ups based on the new technologies.  The mission is to develop research results into commercial products to the benefit of public health.  New cancer diagnostics and therapeutics opportunities from the Institute for Cancer Research is one of the key areas for Medinnova.  Medinnova has recently merged with Birkeland Innovation, the TTO for the University of Oslo, to form Inven2, Norway's largest TTO within life sciences with a portfolio of 5000 scientists.

About OvaGene Oncology

OvaGene Oncology is a molecular diagnostics company, located in Orange County, California, dedicated to improving cancer care and outcomes for gynecologic cancer patients through the development of novel gene-based assays.  The company plans to offer proprietary and non-proprietary molecular diagnostic assays to assist physicians in the prognosis of gynecologic cancers as well as therapy selection, including radiation and chemotherapy.  There are over 11,000 cases of cervical cancer, 25,000 cases of ovarian cancer and 42,000 cases of endometrial cancer diagnosed each year in the United States.  The total market for OvaGene's genomic assays is over 80,000 gynecologic cancer cases diagnosed annually. Please visit our website at www.ovagene.com for more information about our company.


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SOURCE OvaGene Oncology Inc.
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