Numares to Develop Multi-biomarker Test of SPMS Transition

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by Patricia Inacio PhD |

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Numares has signed an exclusive licensing agreement with Oxford University Innovation to develop and commercialize a panel of biomarkers that identify disease progression in people with multiple sclerosis (MS).

Specifically, the company aims to create a tool that detects early signs of conversion from relapsing remitting MS (RRMS) to secondary progressive MS (SPMS), enabling patients to receive timely treatment and improve their outcomes.

The agreement follows a collaboration established between both parties in 2017, under which researchers at Oxford University already validated a set of potential markers for detecting SPMS transitioning.

The exclusive license allows Numares to combine these biomarkers into a non-invasive diagnostic test for MS. Development of the multi-marker diagnostic test will start in 2022.

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“We are very pleased to have such an experienced industrial partner in numares to commercialize our research findings as a breakthrough test, which enables early detection of the transition from RRMS stage to SPMS stage for the first time,” Daniel Anthony, PhD, said in a press release. Anthony is a professor at the University of Oxford and lead scientist on the project.

SPMS is established as a stage of MS that follows RRMS and is marked by a steady worsening of symptoms over time. Yet, the mechanisms driving the conversion are not well understood, and making a timely diagnosis of SPMS is a challenge in clinical practice.

A diagnosis of SPMS typically is made after carefully reviewing the progression of the disease in the preceding months and years. Often, six to 12 months of progression must be noted before a person is considered to have progressed to SPMS. This leads to a significant delay in treatments that could improve a patient’s long-term outcomes.

In an earlier study, Anthony and his team provided the first evidence that RRMS and SPMS patients could be distinguished by examining the metabolic composition of their blood or urine samples. The kind of metabolites — products of metabolism — in each sample were detected using a technology called Nuclear Magnetic Resonance (NMR) spectroscopy.

However, the approach used by these researchers could not control variations across patients and NMR systems. Under the collaboration, Numares provided its proprietary technology — called NMR-based AXINON in-vitro diagnostic (IVD) system — to ensure standardized measures of metabolite levels across different patient samples and NMR systems.

Anthony’s team then ran additional patient samples through an NMR system equipped with the new technology to validate the biomarkers.

Using this NMR data, the company is planning to develop a multi-marker algorithm, which uses machine learning and other modeling approaches to combine relevant biomarkers of SPMS conversion.

“The test opens up the possibility to monitor the condition more closely and thus improve therapeutic decision making,” said Anthony. It “will have a significant impact on the care of individuals living with MS.”

“We are enthusiastic to enter the next phase of the collaboration and utilize Oxford’s excellent preliminary scientific work and Numares expertise for the development of an MS IVD test based on the multi-marker approach,” said Volker Pfahlert, PhD, CEO of Numares.

“Our mission is to improve patient care by providing better diagnostic tools to help physicians better manage their patients. This fruitful collaboration with Oxford researchers gets us closer to our mutual goal to bring first class research to the bedside of MS patients,” Pfahlert added.

In 2021, Numares and Oxford University agreed to extend their collaboration for two more years to develop a multi-marker diagnostic test for Alzheimer’s disease.

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