ROCHESTER, Minn, March 6, 2012—Mayo Clinic today announced that it has signed an agreement with A&G Pharmaceutical, Inc. and will receive a non-exclusive license to certain patent rights and proprietary antibody reagents for the detection and measurement of progranulin in blood. This agreement will enable Mayo Clinic to offer the first commercial blood test to predict progranulin mutation status in patients suspected of frontotemporal dementia (FTD).The blood test will be available late 2012 for all patients of Mayo Clinic and additionally, the test will be offered through Mayo Clinic’s reference laboratory, Mayo Medical Laboratories, to hospitals and clinics throughout the world.
FTD accounts for 5- to 10-percent of all cases of dementia, and even more by some estimates. It is especially common among patients with early-onset dementia. FTD affects the frontal lobe of the brain, an area involved in regulating behavior, movement, mood, and language. Most individuals with FTD are diagnosed when they show changes in personality, loss of memory and ability to use language.
In 2006, researchers at Mayo Clinic published in Nature that the mutation of the progranulin gene, (PGRN), causes a reduction of the protein progranulin in the brain, which along with other changes leads to neuronal death and atrophy of the frontal lobes of the brain, ultimately leading to dementia. Genetic testing is available to determine the presence of mutation in PGRN. However this genetic test is costly. In 2009, Mayo Clinic researcher Dr. Rosa Rademakers and colleagues published in Brain that FTD patients with PRGN mutations showed a reduction in blood progranulin levels compared to control individuals and FTD patients without mutations in PRGN. Based on these findings and using A&G’s proprietary antibody reagents, researchers at Mayo Clinic developed an easy-to-use, cost-effective blood test for measuring the level of progranulin.
“We are pleased to offer this new blood test for FTD. The progranulin blood test provides an inexpensive tool to identify progranulin mutation carriers in patients with early-onset dementia or asymptomatic relatives of FTD patients” said Alicia Algeciras-Schimnich, Ph.D., Assistant Professor of Laboratory Medicine and Pathology, and College of Medicine at Mayo Clinic.
Dr. Ginette Serrero, CEO of A&G Pharmaceutical stated “A&G has pioneered and patented research investigating expression of progranulin in breast cancer and lung cancer. Research has shown that breast cancer patients have an elevated level of progranulin when compared to healthy individuals. We are delighted that our clinical studies with breast cancer patients and development of progranulin antibodies and assays will also help FTD patients.”
Progranulin, an 88 kDa cysteine-rich glycoprotein growth and survival factor, is also called GP88, PC cell-derived growth factor (PCDGF), Granulin Precursor, Granulin-Epithelin Precursor (GEP), Epithelin Precursor, Proepithelin (PEPI) or Acrogranin.
About Mayo Clinic Department of Laboratory Medicine and Pathology/Mayo Medical Laboratories (www.MayoMedicalLaboratories.com)
The Department of Laboratory Medicine and Pathology at Mayo Clinic maintains an active diagnostic test development program. This program incorporates Mayo Clinic discoveries and expertise with discoveries from other diagnostic and biotechnology companies and leading academic and research organizations. Mayo uses these proven diagnostic technologies to care for its own patients and offers them to more than 5,000 health care institutions around the world through Mayo Medical Laboratories. Revenue from testing is used to support medical education and research at Mayo Clinic.
Mayo Clinic is a nonprofit worldwide leader in medical care, research and education for people from all walks of life.
About A&G Pharmaceutical, Inc. (www.agpharma.com)
A&G Pharmaceutical discovers, develops, and commercializes innovative personalized medicine products that improve screening, monitoring, and targeted treatment of cancer and other human diseases. A&G has discovered and patented (150 filed patents, 38 issued patents) on its unique biomarker called progranulin or “GP88.” This protein is produced by cancer cells and is required to help the cancer grow and proliferate whereas normal corresponding cells do not produce nor require progranlulin. A&G’s Precision Antibody™ service division (www.precisionantibody.com) develops and produces customized antibodies to leading pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies as well as federal laboratories. A&G Pharmaceutical is located in Columbia, Maryland.