DxS Ltd has expanded its license with Genzyme Genetics, a business unit of Genzyme Corporation, for epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) to include the United States and Canada.

The license grants DxS the rights to develop and commercialize diagnostic and research products that detect mutations in the EGFR gene for non-small cell lung cancer, and sell them in the United States and Canada.

This builds on a license earlier this year in which Genzyme granted DxS EGFR rights to the world with the exception of North America, Canada, Mexico and Hong Kong. Through an agreement in 2005 with Massachusetts General Hospital and the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, Genzyme holds the exclusive worldwide diagnostic rights for use of the EGFR gene mutations in testing for NSCLC tumors.

EGFR has been identified as an important factor in prescribing effective treatments for non- small cell lung cancer, as patients who have a mutated EGFR gene are far more likely to respond to certain treatments. This was recently highlighted as a result of the IPASS study which compared two cancer treatments, Iressa and Paraplatin. The study showed that patients with a mutated EGFR gene were more likely to respond to treatment.

Dr Stephen Little, CEO of DxS said: “The extension of this license is particularly timely as EGFR is becoming increasingly important in ensuring patients receive the best cancer treatment. Results from the IPASS study showed a marked difference in patient’s response to treatment according to their genetic status, and we expect there will be an increased demand for EGFR tests to ensure patients receive the most effective treatment.”

Jon Hart, senior vice president and general manager, Genzyme Genetics added: “We are very pleased to extend our license with DxS.  By expanding our own reach into the US and Canada for EGFR testing, we reinforce our commitment to furthering the role of diagnostics in the area of personalized medicine.  Providing physicians with this test enables them to guide treatment for small cell lung cancer patients in a timely manner.”

DxS currently have two different EGFR products; the EGFR29 research kit and a CE-marked diagnostic called TheraScreen which will be distributed in Europe by Roche Diagnostics early in 2009. 

Financial terms were not disclosed.