News Article

Orion Genomics Licenses MethylScreen(TM) Technology to QIAGEN Inc. for Research Use in Epigenetics
Date: Nov 21, 2011
Source: PR Newswire ( click here to go to the source)

Featured firm in this article: Orion Genomics LLC of Saint Louis, MO

ST. LOUIS, Sept. 21, 2011 /PRNewswire/ -- Orion Genomics, a leading developer of epigenetic-based diagnostics, announced today that QIAGEN, a leading global provider of sample and assay technologies, has non-exclusively licensed Orion's MethylScreen technology for research use in EpiTect Methyl qPCR Array System reagent kits. These kits are used in the epigenetics field to analyze the DNA methylation status of genes with quantitative PCR (qPCR).

"QIAGEN's license validates the importance of MethylScreen technology in detecting DNA methylation based biomarkers in biological samples, and QIAGEN's distribution strength will further establish Orion's innovation among scientists studying epigenetics," said Nathan D. Lakey, President and CEO of Orion Genomics. "The license agreement provides an additional source of revenue for Orion as we work to advance our own diagnostics products based on epigenetics and as we seek to expand our licensed distribution base among leading life science companies."

The DNA molecule not only contains information based on its sequence of As, Ts, Gs and Cs but also has a second layer of information (or epigenetic layer) written on top of the DNA sequence. The second layer is based on the addition of methyl groups to the DNA molecule's backbone, which creates a binary language that controls whether or not a gene is turned on or off, also called gene silencing.

DNA methylation is an area of biology that is increasingly being studied for its role in common age-related diseases such as cancer. DNA methylation-based biomarkers are a promising class of analytes for the development of diagnostic assays targeting the personalized medicine market.

Orion Genomics developed two technologies that enable the discovery of methylation-based biomarkers and the development and commercialization of corresponding assays. MethylScope® technology, covered by two issued US patents, uses microarrays or next generation sequencing to build high-resolution, genome-wide methylation maps that enable the discovery of disease-associated biomarkers. MethylScreen technology leverages methylation sensing restriction enzymes and real-time PCR to quantitatively detect epigenetic biomarkers in biological samples, allowing for more rigorous study of those biomarkers and development of corresponding assays. The company is focused on using these technologies internally and with strategic partners to develop diagnostic assays for disease risk, disease progression and therapy response.

"We aim to offer our customers the most comprehensive technologies to accomplish their research goals," noted Peter Urbitsch, Director Global Product Management for QIAGEN. "MethylScreen, now licensed from Orion Genomics, is a technology that has proven to be an essential component of our industry-leading epigenetics tools offering, including our EpiTect Methyl qPCR System. Our disease and pathway-focused array formats enable sensitive and fast profiling of DNA samples and provide insights into the molecular mechanisms and biological pathways critical for disease development. It opens up doors for any lab to perform reliable epigenetic pathway analysis because of its simple procedure and the need for standard laboratory equipment only."

In 2009, Orion formed a multiyear discovery and development alliance with Novartis Molecular Diagnostics, and has granted Novartis a non-exclusive license to patents covering MethylScreen technology in the diagnostics field.

About Orion Genomics

Orion Genomics, the Second Code Company, develops epigenetic research tools and molecular diagnostic products to fulfill the promise of personalized medicine. Orion's lead product is a simple blood-based test that is being developed to identify people at elevated risk for colorectal cancer. The company has active biomarker discovery programs in cancers of the bladder, breast, lung, ovaries and colon, and the company offers genomics services to the medical, agricultural and bio-fuels research communities. Orion Genomics is located in the Center for Emerging Technologies in St. Louis. For more information, visit the Orion Genomics website at

SOURCE Orion Genomics