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Cancer startup: Drug development company acquires OHSU’s MolecularMD

ICON buys molecular diagnostic specialty lab co-founded by prominent OHSU scientists
Test tubes in lab
Lab equipment. (OHSU/Kristyna Wentz-Graff)

The clinical research organization ICON, based in Dublin, Ireland, has acquired MolecularMD, a molecular diagnostic specialty lab that focuses on the development and commercialization of precision medicines for oncology.

ICON says the purchase expands their laboratory offering in molecular diagnostic testing and brings expanded testing platforms, including next generation sequencing and immunohistochemistry.

MolecularMD was founded in 2006 as a spin-off of OHSU, with early seed funding and management support from BioCatalyst International. The company specializes in clinical development and commercialization of state-of-the-art assays used to diagnose specific cancers and to monitor the ongoing effectiveness of therapy. By developing partnerships with pharmaceutical companies and physicians, the company has provided clinically relevant molecular tests that help optimize therapy and improve patient outcomes.

Michael Heinrich, M.D.
Michael Heinrich, M.D.
Brian Druker, M.D. (2017)
Brian Druker, M.D.

The company’s scientific co-founders are: Brian Druker, M.D., director of the OHSU Knight Cancer Institute; Michael Heinrich, M.D., professor of medicine (hematology and medical oncology) in the OHSU Knight Cancer Institute, OHSU School of Medicine, and a practicing physician at the VA Portland Health System; and Chad Galderisi, D.O. At the time of MolecularMD’s founding, Galderisi was affiliated with OHSU and the VA Portland Health System; he is now the company’s chief medical officer and laboratory director.

Druker is internationally recognized for his role in the clinical development of Gleevec, the first molecular-targeted medication to prove effective against chronic myeloid leukemia.

“MolecularMD’s mission has always been to improve cancer survival for patients by developing diagnostic tests that will monitor the effectiveness of targeted cancer treatments,” said Druker, a Howard Hughes Medical Institute Investigator and JELD-WEN Chair of Leukemia Research at OHSU. “ICON’s international reach will encourage collaborators across the globe to contribute to this important work.”

Heinrich is nationally acclaimed for being the first to identify mutations in platelet-derived growth factor receptors (PDGFR) as the cause of gastrointestinal stromal tumors, or GIST, in specific patient populations. In addition, he was instrumental in the clinical trials proving the effectiveness of Gleevec for patients with GIST.

“We are encouraged by ICON’s plans to incorporate MolecularMD’s technology into their current portfolio,” said Heinrich. “It is exciting for us, and exciting for OHSU, to have our technology featured on a global scale.”

Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed. Additional information can be found via the Icon news site: 

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