Biomerica Inc announced that it has purchased a patented technology and the manufacturing rights for a new Thiopurine methyltransferase (TPMT) test to detect patients who are at risk of developing severe side effects if treated with the class of thiopurine drugs that includes azathioprine, mercaptopurine, and thioguanine.
Thiopurine drugs suppress the immune system and are used in the treatment of a wide range of diseases, such as inflammatory bowel disease, leukemia and lymphoma, autoimmune diseases and skin disorders such as psoriasis and severe eczema. They are also used to treat organ transplants patients.
The most commonly used thiopurine drug is called azathioprine. It is estimated that one in every 300 people lacks TPMT, which is an enzyme that helps remove thiopurine drugs from the body when they are present. Individuals who lack the TPMT enzyme can become severely ill if treated with normal doses of thiopurine drugs because toxic levels of the drug accumulate. These patients develop bone marrow suppression, leading to a reduction in blood cells, which in turn can cause infection and abnormal bleeding. Such side effects can be avoided if TPMT is measured before starting treatment.
"Currently there is no simple test a hospital can use to detect TPMT and therefore the sample must be sent to a specialty reference lab, which is more costly, takes time and impedes patient care," said Zackary Irani, CEO of Biomerica. "This new patented test will allow any lab, including hospital labs, to test for TPMT using a simple, quick and easy to use ELISA format."
The Company estimates the product will be available for sale within the next six months. The TPMT product will initially be sold internationally and in the US only after FDA clearance. The terms of the transaction were not disclosed.