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Tm Bioscience acquires key sepsis biomarkers from Sirius Genomics


Toronto, ON – Commercial genetic testing developer Tm Bioscience says it has signed an agreement with Vancouver-based Sirius Genomics for an exclusive commercial license to patents from Sirius for specific biomarkers related to drugs used to treat severe sepsis including vasopressin. Tm Bioscience says it plans to incorporate these markers into a diagnostic for use by critical-care physicians which it expects to launch in the second half of 2007.

“Sepsis is a critical healthcare issue. One out of every three patients who develop severe sepsis will die within a month. There are limited treatments for severe sepsis,” says Greg Hines, president and CEO of Tm Bioscience. “By applying the genetic discoveries made by Sirius Genomics, we hope to develop an innovative genetic test that could be used to identify patients who are more likely to respond well to the two main drugs used to treat severe sepsis. Such tests could help save lives.”

Sepsis is a syndrome that can result from a person’s over-response to an infection. Severe sepsis is often more dangerous than the initial infection and, without rapid diagnosis and intervention, can develop within a matter of hours, leading to septic shock which can cause temporary or permanent damage to multiple organs or even death. There are more than 750,000 cases of severe sepsis per year in the US with approximately 215,000 cases resulting in death. Treating patients with severe sepsis costs US hospitals almost $17 billion annually.

The agreement covers a series of possible mutations that can occur in the genes associated with two proteins, protein C and arginine vasopressin. Under the terms of the agreement, Tm Bioscience will provide an up-front payment of $4 million, which will be provided to Sirius in two equal installments in the second and third quarters of 2006. These upfronts will be repaid from net earnings on commercial sales of the severe sepsis test, with the remaining earnings shared equally by Sirius and Tm over the term of the agreement.