A biotech firm developing cancer tests potentially worth billions is deepening its links to Mayo Clinic by expanding its collaborations and licensing deals.
On Thursday, the Madison, Wis.-based Exact Sciences Corp. announced the new milestone in its long relationship with Mayo Clinic. Exact is best known for Cologuard, a stool-based DNA test for colorectal cancer that it developed with Mayo Clinic.
The test is currently in clinical trials. Mayo Clinic and Exact originally signed a research and licensing agreement in 2009 for “the exclusive rights to intellectual property” developed by Mayo Clinic's Dr. David A. Ahlquist and his laboratory.
This is new Exact/Mayo announcement basically an extension of their original deal. It expands it to include all gastrointestinal cancers and diseases as well as new cancer screening applications of stool- and blood-based testing. Exact will continue to have exclusive rights to commercialize anything that comes from this collaboration.
Exact says it will make up-front, milestone and royalty payments to Mayo Clinic, as in the past. It will also continue to fund the collaborative work done in Dr. Ahlquist’s lab.
“Our collaboration with Mayo Clinic and Dr. Ahlquist has been extraordinarily productive, culminating in the Cologuard marker panel that will be used in our DeeP-C clinical trial and commercialized when it’s approved by the FDA,” said Exact's CEO Kevin T. Conroy.
At first Exact was based in Marlborough, Mass. It was decided to move the firm to the Midwest and Rochester was among the locations considered. In 2009, the Wisconsin Department of Commerce gave Exact a $1 million loan to re-locate to Madison, Wis.
The American Cancer Society says colorectal cancer remains the third leading cause of cancer-related deaths in both men and women in the United States and accounts for almost 10 percent of all cancer deaths.
Exact estimates that reaching about 30 percent of the U.S. commercial market for colorectal cancer testing would add up to about $1.2 billion in business. Expand that worldwide and the market opportunity grows to $3 billion, according to the company's materials.