ONCOTracker and The Binding Site have entered an agreement to develop and commercialize a new test that measures serum levels of the B-cell maturation antigen (sBCMA) protein to monitor people with blood cancers, including multiple myeloma.
Under the agreement, The Binding Site has gained exclusive rights to commercialize this test worldwide. ONCOTracker, which has patented technology to measure this biomarker in myeloma patients, will continue to support The Binding Site in its research and development efforts involving the sBCMA test.
“We are thrilled to partner with The Binding Site Group, the leader in myeloma diagnostics and manufacturer of Freelite, the diagnostic standard of care in multiple myeloma. They are the perfect collaborator to further develop and commercialize the sBCMA biomarker test and an ideal match for ONCOtracker,” James Berenson, MD, founder and president of ONCOtracker, said in a press release.
BCMA is a protein found on the surface of mature B-cells, which are cells of the immune system that make antibodies – proteins used to fight off infections. This protein is involved in B-cell proliferation and survival, and its levels are known to be elevated in myeloma and other blood cancers.
The protein currently is seen as a promising target for myeloma, and many BCMA-targeting therapies are in clinical development for this blood cancer.
But evidence suggests that BCMA levels also may help monitor treatment responses in these patients and predict patient outcomes.
In the past decade, Berenson and his colleagues at The Institute for Myeloma and Bone Cancer Research (IMBCR) identified a free form of BCMA, called serum BCMA or sBCMA, that is shed from cancer cells into the blood and can be used to diagnose these blood cancers.
sBCMA testing also may be used to predict the overall outcome of patients and to monitor their response to treatment with a simple blood draw, which is less invasive and cheaper than bone marrow tests or imaging scans.
Under the recent collaboration, The Binding Site will be developing the sBCMA test not only for myeloma, but also for chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL) and additional conditions in which this biomarker is also known to be elevated.
CLL is the most common form of leukemia in adults that, like myeloma, causes the abnormal growth of B-cells. Some common symptoms of CLL include fatigue, night sweats, and stomach discomfort.
Berenson recently published a study showing that sBCMA are significantly higher in these patients than in healthy people (controls), and that greater sBCMA levels in patients are linked to more aggressive disease and worse survival.
“Binding Site has a history of collaborating with exceptional scientists and developing the utility of new markers and technologies to aid in … patient management,” said Stephen Harding, PhD, chief scientific officer of The Binding Site Group. “We are delighted to announce this collaboration and excited to work with Dr. Berenson and the OncoTracker team as we add another tool to [our] armamentarium.”
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