OPKO Health, Inc. (NYSE:OPK) today announced that it has signed an agreement with Laboratory Corporation of America Holdings (LabCorp) under which LabCorp licensed exclusive rights in North America and the United Arab Emirates to OPKO’s intellectual property to develop and commercialize laboratory testing services for Alzheimer’s disease. Financial terms of the transaction were not disclosed.
OPKO’s diagnostic is designed to detect elevated levels of antibodies that appear to be unique to Alzheimer’s disease. The Alzheimer’s disease-specific antibodies were discovered using OPKO’s novel proprietary platform that OPKO has demonstrated in initial studies to be capable of identifying biomarkers for a wide range of diseases to which the immune system reacts, including Alzheimer’s disease, as well as cancers, autoimmune diseases, neurodegenerative diseases and infectious diseases. In addition to Alzheimer’s disease, OPKO is pursuing the development of diagnostics for non-small cell lung cancer, pancreatic and other cancers, and diseases for which early detection could lead to earlier therapy and dramatically improved outcomes.
“Licensing of our Alzheimer’s diagnostic technology to a major clinical laboratory, such as LabCorp, marks a significant milestone for OPKO’s diagnostics program and the advancement of our molecular diagnostics tests,” commented Phillip Frost, M.D., Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of OPKO. “LabCorp, one of the world’s leading suppliers of diagnostic services, has a track record of introducing new testing services that improve patient disease management.”
“We believe that OPKO's innovative technology will lead to more accurate diagnoses, more effective treatment, and better patient outcomes,” said David P. King, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of LabCorp. “We are pleased to offer this important diagnostic tool to our customers in North America and the UAE.”About Alzheimer’s Disease Currently it is estimated that over five million people in the United States, and over 35 million people worldwide, have Alzheimer’s disease and the national cost of caring for people with Alzheimer’s and other dementias was estimated to be $172 billion in 2010 in the United States alone. By 2050, it is estimated that between 11 and 16 million people in the United States over the age of 65 will have Alzheimer’s, and the global prevalence of people living with Alzheimer’s and other dementias is expected to be greater than 115 million. Currently there are no specific tests to detect Alzheimer’s disease and follow its progression. Current diagnosis tools such as behavioral and cognitive measurements, brain scans and spinal fluid analysis have limited diagnostic accuracy, may not detect early stage disease, and in the case of spinal fluid analysis are highly invasive. Definitive diagnosis can currently be made only from examination of postmortem brain tissue samples. An effective early diagnostic blood test would provide a significant breakthrough in supporting definitive early diagnosis.