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Eutropics Pharmaceuticals signs $1.5M NCI/SBIR contract to develop companion diagnostic for guiding Multiple Myeloma treatments

CAMBRIDGE, Mass., Sept. 20, 2012 /PRNewswire/ -- Eutropics Pharmaceuticals has signed a $1.5M phase 2 contract with the National Cancer Institute Small Business Initiative Research (NCI-SBIR) to commercially develop  its proprietary diagnostic assay for personalized medicine approaches in Multiple Myeloma (MM) patient management. The award follows a highly successful phase 1 contract that demonstrated the commercial potential for the core technology called BH3 profiling.  Eutropics holds an exclusive license for this asset from equity partner, the Dana Farber Cancer Institute (DFCI).

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The BH3 profiling technology provides a biomarker/diagnostic to help guide the use of several approved therapies for MM, as well as other cancer indications, and is being advanced as a companion test for experimental therapies currently in development. The biomarker provides a unique, functional understanding of cancer cells that indicates if they are capable of responding to certain treatments. This understanding will be particularly important in deciding when to use, or to avoid, certain therapies in newly diagnosed or relapsed/refractory MM patients. Such an approach will allow for the identification of the best treatment option for each individual patient.  Eutropics' approach is consistent with the July 2011 roadmap announcement made by the FDA calling for companion tests that will improve treatment efficacies by selecting appropriate use of targeted oncology therapies based on predictive molecular discriminators.

"Our physician colleagues, thought leaders in the area of treating multiple myeloma, have clearly indicated the need for new tools that will guide treatment. The NCI has confirmed our belief that this technology will provide such a tool and with this contract has requisitioned Eutropics to put a validated test in the hands of people who will benefit from it," said Michael Cardone, Chief Executive Officer at Eutropics.

Collaborations between Eutropics and M.D. Anderson Cancer Center, the University of Massachusetts Medical School, The Mayo Clinic, TGen Corporation, the DFCI, and several pharmaceutical and biotechnology partners are currently underway to support the rapid clinical development of this technology. Funds from this contract will support validation studies leading to commercialization.  Eutropics will develop strategic alliances with pharmaceutical and diagnostic companies to distribute the test.

About BH3 profiling   
In the area of cancer treatment, understanding, detecting, and controlling mitochondrial function is a critical area of focus. Mitochondria represent a critical node for understanding how to selectively kill cancer cells while preserving non-cancer cells. BH3 profiling is used to determine if the mitochondria in a cancer cell are preset to commit a cell to death in response to upstream signaling.

This allows predicting responses to therapies that either initiate signals upstream of the mitochondria or directly target the apoptosis regulating proteins at the mitochondrial surface.  The BH3 profiling assay has proven to be highly effective at identifying when certain apoptosis inducing therapies will or will not be effective in cancer patients.

About Eutropics Pharmaceuticals   
Eutropics Pharmaceuticals is dedicated to becoming a leader in personalized cancer therapy. The company is employing proprietary BH3-profiling biomarker technology to replace empirical treatment paradigms with more targeted therapy. The biomarker provides a unique understanding of cancer cells that is important in the pre-clinical development of experimental drugs and will be important in the later stages of their development, including the development of the company's first in class anti-cancer therapeutic compound. The BH3-profiling technology was invented by Stan Korsmyer and Anthony Letai at DFCI.  Eutropics holds an exclusive license for commercializing this assay. The company's operations in Cambridge, MA, are supported by private investors, the NCI, and a loan from the State of Massachusetts Life Sciences Center.

SOURCE Eutropics Pharmaceuticals
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