Trinity College Dublin: OncoMark acquired by US molecular diagnostic company, Cepheid Inc.

University College Dublin (UCD) today formally announced the acquisition of OncoMark Ltd, a UCD spin-out company, by US molecular diagnostics company, Cepheid Inc.

OncoMark Ltd developed the OncoMasTR test, based on a panel of genetic drivers of breast cancer. The original research that resulted in the identification of the panel was led by Professor Adrian Bracken, from Trinity’s School of Genetics and Microbiology, and involved researchers at the UCD Conway Institute, led by Professor William Gallagher.

The OncoMasTR technology was subsequently exclusively licensed by both universities to OncoMark.

OncoMark was co-founded by Professor William Gallagher and Steve Penney as a spin-out from the UCD School of Biomolecular and Biomedical Science and the UCD Conway Institute, and was based at NovaUCD, the University’s Centre for New Ventures and Entrepreneurs.

The company developed the novel OncoMasTR test for early-stage Breast Cancer (OncoMasTR), which has the potential to reduce the number of breast cancer patients receiving unnecessary chemotherapy. The testwas CE Marked in preparation for launch in EU markets. With the acquisition of OncoMark by Cepheid, the test will now be launched on Cepheid’s world-leading GeneXpert Platform in global markets.

Subsequent to the sale of OncoMark, a new company, OncoAssure, was established with all former OncoMark staff moving across to OncoAssure to continue the development of biomarkers in other cancers, outside of breast cancer. OncoAssure is headquartered at NovaUCD.

Adrian Bracken, Associate Professor in Medical Molecular Genetics at Trinity, said:

“I hope the news today leads to improving the lives of women with breast cancer. It illustrates the importance of supporting fundamental or ‘basic’ research, which was essential for the breakthrough with our OncoMasTR invention.”

Des O’Leary, former OncoMark CEO, and now OncoAssure CEO, said:

“I am very pleased that the novel OncoMasTR test developed by OncoMark will be brought to the clinic and commercialised by Cepheid, a world-leading molecular diagnostic company. This will ensure that patients world-wide will be able to reap the considerable benefits of the test.”

“Furthermore, with the establishment of OncoAssure, the former OncoMark team, using a very similar approach, are now working on the development of biomarkers to address significant unmet needs in other cancers. The lead product in this pipeline is a test for prostate cancer that will help clinicians identify those patients that can safely opt for active surveillance, rather than aggressive treatment.”

William Gallagher, Professor of Cancer Biology, UCD School of Biomolecular and Biomedical Science, former Chief Scientific Officer (CSO) at OncoMark and currently OncoAssure CSO, said:

“I am delighted to see the ongoing translation of OncoMasTR towards the clinic via Cepheid’s innovative GeneXpert platform. The underpinning OncoMasTR technology originated from a fantastic collaboration between Professor Adrian Bracken’s team based at Trinity College Dublin whose focus on fundamental aspects of cancer cell biology dovetailed very nicely with our interests in translational cancer research at UCD.”

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