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Veridex, LLC Announces Collaboration to Develop Next-Generation Circulating Tumor Cell (CTC) Technology with Massachusetts General Hospital
Date:1/3/2011

RARITAN, N.J., Jan. 3, 2011 /PRNewswire/ -- Veridex, LLC (Veridex) today announced a collaboration with Massachusetts General Hospital to develop and commercialize a next-generation circulating tumor cell (CTC) technology for capturing, counting and characterizing tumor cells found in patients' blood.  The collaboration will involve Ortho Biotech Oncology Research & Development (ORD), a unit of Johnson & Johnson Pharmaceutical Research & Development.  It focuses on the development of a next-generation system that will enable CTCs to be used both by oncologists as a diagnostic tool for personalizing patient care, as well as by researchers to accelerate and improve the process of drug discovery and development.

The collaboration will rely on the collective scientific, technical, clinical, and commercial expertise between the partners: Massachusetts General Hospital's experience in clinical research and novel CTC technologies; the experience of Veridex as the only diagnostics company to have brought CTC technology to the U.S. market as an FDA-cleared in vitro diagnostic (IVD) assay for capturing and counting the number of tumor cells in the blood to help inform patients and their physicians about prognosis and overall survival in certain types of metastatic cancers; and ORD's expertise in oncology therapeutics, biomarkers and companion diagnostics.

"This new technology has the potential to facilitate an easy-to-administer, non-invasive blood test that would allow us to count tumor cells, and to characterize the biology of the cells," said Robert McCormack, Head of Technology Innovation and Strategy, Veridex.  "Harnessing the information contained in these cells in an in vitro clinical setting could enable tools to help select treatment and monitor how patients are responding."

"The role of CTCs in drug discovery and development is growing as new technologies allow us to use CTCs for the first time as templates for novel DNA, RNA and protein biomarkers," said Nicholas Dracopoli, Vice President, Biomarkers, ORD.  "Given the demand for actionable data to guide personalized medicine for patients with cancer, there is a rapidly growing need for advanced, automated non-invasive technologies that can aid in selection of treatment and monitor response throughout the course of their disease."

"The challenging goal of sorting extremely rare CTCs from blood requires continuous technological, biological and clinical innovation to fully explore the utility of these precious cells in clinical oncology," said Mehmet Toner, Ph.D., director of the BioMicroElectroMechanical Systems Resource Center in the Massachusetts General Hospital Center for Engineering in Medicine. "We have developed and continue to develop a broad range of technologies that are evolving what we know about cancer and cancer care. This collaboration is an opportunity to apply our past learning to the advancement of a platform that will ultimately benefit patients with cancer."

The platform to be developed will be a bench-top system to specifically isolate and explore the biology of rare cells at the protein, RNA and DNA levels.  

Clinical validation and regulatory submissions for future diagnostic applications of this new technology will be guided by Veridex.  Veridex launched the first commercial CTC test in 2004 and has demonstrated an ongoing commitment to advancing innovation in CTC testing and expanding the utility of CTCs as an IVD tool in clinical oncology practice.  In the research setting, Veridex's Clinical Research Solutions group works with partner companies to offer technology and expertise in rare cells for R&D efforts that aim to develop more targeted and effective therapies in cancer and other diseases.

Ortho Biotech Oncology Research & Development, a unit of Johnson & Johnson Pharmaceutical Research & Development, is a research and development organization that strives to transform cancer to a preventable, chronic or curable disease by delivering extraordinary and accessible diagnostic and therapeutic solutions that prolong and improve patients' lives. 

Building on its successful development and evolution of CTC technology, as well as contributions to the body of science in the CTC field, Massachusetts General Hospital aims to revolutionize how oncologists detect, monitor and potentially treat cancers.

About Circulating Tumor Cells

Circulating tumor cells are cancer cells that have detached from the tumor and are found at extremely low levels in the bloodstream.  The value of capturing and counting CTCs is evolving as more research data is gathered about the utility of these markers in monitoring disease progression and potentially guiding personalized cancer therapy.

About Veridex, LLC

Veridex, LLC, a Johnson & Johnson company, is an organization dedicated to providing physicians with high-value diagnostic oncology products.  Veridex's IVD products may significantly benefit patients by helping physicians make more informed decisions that enable better patient care.  Veridex's Clinical Research Solutions provide tools and services that may be used for the selection, identification and enumeration of targeted rare cells in peripheral blood for the identification of biomarkers, aiding scientists in their search for new, targeted therapies.  For more information, visit www.veridex.com

(This press release contains "forward-looking statements" as defined in the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995.  These statements are based on current expectations of future events.  If underlying assumptions prove inaccurate or unknown risks or uncertainties materialize, actual results could vary materially from the expectations and projections of Veridex, LLC, Johnson & Johnson Pharmaceutical Research & Development and/or Johnson & Johnson.  Risks and uncertainties include general industry conditions and competition; economic conditions, such as interest rate and currency exchange rate fluctuations; technological advances and patents attained by competitors; challenges inherent in new product development, including obtaining regulatory approvals; domestic and foreign health care reforms and governmental laws and regulations; and trends toward health care cost containment.  A further list and description of these risks, uncertainties and other factors can be found in Exhibit 99 of Johnson & Johnson's Annual Report on Form 10-K for the fiscal year ended January 3, 2010.  Copies of this Form 10-K, as well as subsequent filings, are available online at www.sec.gov, www.jnj.com or on request from Johnson & Johnson.  None of Veridex, LLC, Johnson & Johnson Pharmaceutical Research & Development or Johnson & Johnson undertake to update any forward-looking statements as a result of new information or future events or developments.)


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