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In Brief This Week: Mainz Biomed, UniQure, UPMC, BrainTale, Ultragenyx, Quest Diagnostics

NEW YORK – Mainz Biomed this week announced that Bioclinica has joined its network of laboratories offering Mainz's ColoAlert at-home colorectal cancer test. As a result, the test will become available to patients in Romania, where Bioclinica has 15 associated labs and 146 collection points in the country, according to Germany-based Mainz. 

Amsterdam-based UniQure this week said it met a milestone payment of $100 million as part of its deal with CSL Behring, under which CSL Behring has exclusive rights to commercialize and continue to develop a hemophilia B gene therapy originally developed by UniQure, Hemgenix (etranacogene dezaparvovec). The payment is associated with CSL Behring's first commercial sale of Hemgenix in the US. 

Hemgenix, which is priced at $3.5 million, holds the distinction as the most expensive drug in the world

University of Pittsburgh Medical Center this week said it is collaborating with PharmaLogic Holdings to develop new radiopharmaceuticals for cancer and other diseases and provide access to diagnostic and therapeutic agents not currently available locally in the communities surrounding UPMC. The companies will work together to build a research, production, and distribution facility in Pittsburgh. PharmaLogic will build, outfit, and manage the facility while UPMC will be the anchor clinical customer and will provide strategic, research, and operational support. 

French medtech firm BrainTale this week said it raised €4.5 million to continue to develop a software platform that measures white matter alterations in patients' brains based on diffusion MRI. Such measurements can be used to diagnose, monitor, and predict progression or recovery of neurological disorders, according to the company. BrainTale also plans to use the funding to expand its presence in Europe and the US; the company, founded in 2018, already has customers in those regions including hospitals and drug developers. 

Biopharmaceutical company Ultragenyx this week opened a gene therapy manufacturing facility in Bedford, Massachusetts, to support its efforts to develop and commercialize gene therapies for rare diseases. The site for the 110,000-square-foot facility was selected due to its proximity to the company's R&D operations in the Boston area. Novato, California-based Ultragenyx said it plans to hire 120 employees to staff the new facility. 

Quest Diagnostics said this week that it has completed its acquisition of Haystack Oncology. Haystack has developed a minimal-residual disease testing technology that uses circulating tumor DNA to aid in the detection of residual or reoccurring cancer and inform treatment decisions. Quest plans to incorporate Haystack’s technology into a new blood-based clinical lab service for solid tumor cancers that will be available beginning in 2024. Quest originally announced in April that it was acquiring Haystack for up to $450 million in cash. 

Blue Earth Diagnostics said this week that, through a collaboration with Siemens Healthineers company PETNET Solutions, its prostate-specific membrane antigen (PSMA) PET imaging agent Posluma (18F-rhPSMA-7.3) is now commercially available in the United States. The US Food and Drug Administration approved the agent in May as a diagnostic to detect PSMA-positive lesions in certain metastatic prostate cancer patients. Now, Blue Earth is using PETNET's 31 radiopharmacies to commercially produce the agent for US use. 

Gilead Sciences subsidiary Kite Pharma said this week that it has completed the transfer of Yescarta (axicabtagene ciloleucel)'s licensing rights from Daiichi Sankyo in Japan. Gilead now owns the rights to develop, manufacture, and commercialize the CD19-directed CAR T-cell therapy in Japan. Daiichi Sankyo had owned these rights since an initial agreement with Kite in 2017. 

In Brief This Week is a selection of news items that may be of interest to our readers but had not previously appeared in Precision Medicine Online.