Two colorectal cancer (CRC) blood assays based on DNA hypermethylation are in late-stage development and clinical use to noninvasively check for nascent disease or to see if an individual is at risk for cancer. One is being developed to determine loss of imprinting of insulin-like growth factor 2 (IGF2) as a potential risk factor for colorectal cancer in younger people by Orion Genomics (St. Louis), based on technology Orion exclusively licensed from Johns Hopkins University (JHU; Baltimore)... Researchers from Orion and JHU are collaborating to improve Orion's IGF2 assay, and independent of Orion, JHU is conducting large-scale prospective trials to establish the lifetime cancer risk. Prior published retrospective studies involving more than 200 patients have demonstrated that CRC patients are 21 times more likely to harbor the IGF2 biomarker in their blood compared with appropriate cancer-free subjects. "When clinical trials are completed, we will market the Orion CRC Risk Test to the 81.6 million people in their twenties and thirties in the United States and to the primary care physicians who treat them," says Nathan Lakey, Orion's CEO.
...Orion Genomics has developed several tools to efficiently and comprehensively measure epigenetic signals for the entire genome. MethylScope reportedly enables genome-wide DNA-methylation profiling. Simultaneous study of the epigenetic state of every human gene as well as hundreds of thousands of other loci enables detection of candidate biomarkers that otherwise would remain undiscovered... "Finding causative methylation marks is only the first step in the process," says Jared Ordway, Ph.D., vp of research and development. "We can continue their translation into clinical diagnostics by developing a specific assessment of the methylation density of that marker. But sometimes it makes more sense to measure the downstream result."
Novartis' MDx unit's first collaboration was with Orion Genomics LLC last October to discover and develop epigenetic biomarkers for use in diagnostics for undisclosed diseases using Orion's methylated DNA detection technologies. Terms were not disclosed, and each party has rights to independently develop and commercialize diagnostic products in its respective fields.
...other big pharmas have jumped into the mix as well: Novartis AG signed a deal with Orion Genomics LLC aimed at discovering epigenetic biomarkers for use in diagnostics.
Nathan Lakey is pitching a new test for colon cancer. Francis Creighton's team is creating a system to destroy blood clots. Randy Weiss has novel cancer drugs to treat the side effects of chemotherapy.
Faced with an empty, freshly painted lab room, many young scientists have a small panic attack: What do they need to properly start their lab? And how do they keep it running smoothly? To address some of the questions floating around in young investigators' minds, Genome Technology caught up with a few experts to get their take on setting up a lab. With their advice, the experience can be less stressful and more like being a kid in a candy store.
Scientists in St. Louis have helped sequence the genome of the oil palm tree, a feat they hope will lead to better production of the world's most widely consumed edible oil. The scientists, with St. Louis-based Orion Genomics, MOgene LC and The Genome Center at Washington University, mapped the genetic blueprint of three species of palm oil trees under contract for the Malaysian Palm Oil Board. Oil palm is one of southeast Asia's most important crops and an essential cooking ingredient for millions.
Orion Genomics LLC, (St. Louis, Mo.) and Novartis AG (NYSE:NVS; SIX:NOVN, Basel, Switzerland): Orion Genomics and Novartis' Novartis Pharma AG unit will discover and develop epigenetic biomarkers for use in diagnostic tests for undisclosed diseases. Orion will use its MethylScope technology to build high-resolution, genome-wide methylation maps and have exclusive, worldwide rights to develop and commercialize resulting diagnostics for certain undisclosed indications.
Orion Genomics LLC is expected to announce on Monday a collaboration with Novartis AG aimed at discovering epigenetic biomarkers for use in diagnostics. Terms for the deal were not disclosed, although St. Louis-based Orion and Basel, Switzerland-based Novartis each will retain rights to commercialize certain resulting diagnostics. Epigenetics refers to how gene expression is influenced by structural modifications, such as DNA methylation or histone acetylation, that change the way a DNA sequence is packaged without changing the sequence itself. The classic example is stem cells, which divide and differentiate to become every cell in the body without changing their DNA sequence.
Malaysia's efforts to break the genetic code for the oil-palm plant could increase the supply of palm oil at a time when demand is growing. The Malaysian Palm Oil Board has almost finished a five-year mapping of the oil-palm genome. It intends to use the results in its cross-breeding program and, it hopes, eventually increase output... The government-run board is working with South Korea's Macrogen Inc., U.S. based Orion Genomics LLC and the U.K.'s Oxford Gene Technology IP Ltd. to complete the sequence and apply the research.
Orion Genomics LLC is hopeful that by the end of next year, it will begin selling a simple blood test that can identify people who are at elevated risk of developing colon cancer.
Companies need funding to get from gene to end-product, [BIO's Lisa Feisee] said, and "there is no way anyone will put money into your company without patents" on the gene or protein. Nathan Lakey, president and CEO of Orion Genomics, a cancer diagnostic company, agreed. Without patents to provide value, "who is going to find the relationships between genes and diseases?" he asked.
The question is, can patterns of methylation be correlated with types of cancer and, if so, can this be used as the basis of a diagnostic tool? Orion believes so. "We believe that epigenetic analysis is a fantastic opportunity for a diagnostic system that can quickly identify high-frequency differential methylation between normal and diseased tissue," says Lakey. Orion has developed technology to screen the methylation status of DNA sequences. The methylation pattern could be used to classify different types of cancer, or to detect cancer in biopsies or even samples of saliva or urine that could contain abnormal cells.
Jared Ordway, senior scientist and group leader of biomarker discovery at Orion Genomics says, "Tumor cells undergo epigenetic alternations including global changes in DNA methylation, a chemical signal that resides on the DNA and provides the cell with an adaptable mechanism for gene regulation. Unlike RNA, proteins, and other metabolic products, DNA methylation states are remarkably stable and therefore provide a robust biomarker platform with significant diagnostic potential". To that end, Orion developed a technology called MethylScope to allow for accurate global profiling of DNA methylation density across the genome.
In October, Orion announced a collaboration with Mayo Clinic to study the clinical utility of Orion's breast cancer screening tests, which are based on epigenetic biomarkers identified using Orion's DNA methylation technologies. The Mayo Clinic and Orion will validate the tumor specificity of Orion's breast cancer biomarkers by analyzing epigenetic biomarkers in more than a dozen additional cancer types. Orion has so far discovered and validated over 50 novel breast cancer biomarkers.
Orion Genomics LLC, which is pioneering a method for early cancer detection and improved treatment, said Thursday it has partnered with a leading research team at the University of Glasgow, Scotland.
Second Code biomarkers, or DNA methylation patterns, provide information on the regulation of genes. The research is being used to develop tests that can detect trace amounts of methylated tumour DNA in easy to access tissues such as blood serum, biopsies, and cell scraps. Nathan Lakey, CEO and President of Orion Genomics, discusses what epigenetics is, and what the future could be for this technique.
Sharon Begley explores imprinting, a process by which normal genes are regulated (silenced) by a tag that sits on top of the DNA. Begley discusses Orion's technology and molecular diagnostics that can detect the 'second genetic code,' or the pattern of silencers on DNA and how this technology is important for the early warning of disease.
Orion recently established a collaboration with Dr. Andrew Feinberg to research the role epigenetics plays in colon cancer. Data resulting from this collaboration will enable Orion Genomics to develop a new type of molecular diagnostic test for colon cancer.
Maggos delves into Orion's technology in this piece and outlines the benefits of not only being able to detect DNA's 'Second Code' but to decipher the degree of silencing on DNA. Orion's molecular diagnostics, the technology and the potential these diagnostics have in human disease, particularly cancer are outlined.