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Orion Genomics Gains Exclusive Worldwide Rights to the IGF2 Gene for Colorectal Cancer Risk Testing Through Licensing Agreement With Johns Hopkins University
Date:6/11/2008

ST. LOUIS, June 11 /PRNewswire/ -- Orion Genomics announced today that the company entered into a worldwide exclusive license agreement with The Johns Hopkins University (JHU) to commercialize products that identify patients at risk for colorectal cancer. The license is based on a suite of issued and pending JHU patents covering imprinting abnormalities of the insulin-like growth factor 2 gene (IGF2). Orion's simple blood-based risk assessment test is being designed to identify people who carry the IGF2 biomarker and may be at increased risk of developing sporadic colorectal cancer. It is expected that the test will enable at-risk patients to undergo screening for colorectal cancer significantly earlier, allowing physicians to remove precancerous polyps and prevent future colon cancer.

Two published studies involving more than 200 patients have found that colorectal cancer and adenoma patients are at least five times more likely to carry the IGF2 biomarker than age-matched cancer-free patients serving as controls.

"We are pleased to obtain this exclusive license from The Johns Hopkins University to complete the development of our lead cancer risk assessment product and enter the market in the near future," said Nathan D. Lakey, President and CEO of Orion Genomics. "Our colorectal cancer risk test has the potential to save lives by identifying a group of high risk individuals who are likely to develop colorectal cancer at a younger age, and who should undergo colonoscopy screening 10 to 20 years earlier than the age that is currently recommended."

Loss of imprinting of IGF2 is a non-heritable epigenetic mutation detected in the blood of seven to 10 percent of the general population. Although epigenetic mutations do not affect the DNA sequence of a gene, cancer associated epigenetic changes can either turn off or "silence" genes that normally suppress cancer, or can inappropriately turn on genes that can lead to malignant cellular activity. Researchers at The Johns Hopkins University are participating in a large multi-center prospective trial to study the link between the IGF2 biomarker and colorectal cancer.

"If the power of this risk marker shown in earlier clinical studies is confirmed by the large prospective trial now underway, it can potentially change the way populations are screened for colon cancer," said Graham Colditz, MD, DrPH, Associate Director of Prevention and Control, Alvin J. Siteman Cancer Center. "The test may identify people who should be screened earlier in life and more frequently, while also identifying individuals who can start screening later than what is now recommended, thus serving as a tool to help physicians in developing targeted monitoring plans and shifting resources to the people most likely to develop colon cancer."

"Colorectal cancer is the second most deadly cancer claiming more than 52,000 lives in 2007 in the U.S., with treatment costs for colorectal cancer estimated to exceed $8 billion annually," Lakey continued. "We believe our risk assessment test will be easily incorporated into the routine management of colorectal cancer. When used in conjunction with colonoscopy screening, our test has the potential to reduce colorectal cancer incidence as well as reduce associated colorectal cancer treatment costs in a U.S. clinical market size of more than 81 million people."

About Orion Genomics

Orion Genomics develops epigenetic research tools and molecular diagnostic products to detect cancer at its earliest stages and to aid in appropriate therapy selection. The company has active biomarker discovery programs in cancers of the bladder, breast, lung, ovaries and colon. Orion Genomics is located in the Center for Emerging Technologies in St. Louis. For more information, visit http://www.oriongenomics.com.


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SOURCE Orion Genomics
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