Molecular Health Identifies Biomarker for Tumor Growth Related to Cancer Anemia Treatment

Results published today in Cancer Cell validate new diagnostic biomarker for reducing adverse events and improving outcomes of cancer patients with anemia

Findings enable potential patient stratification for tailored treatment

CAMBRIDGE, Mass., Oct. 15, 2015 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Molecular Health, a leader in cloud-based healthcare decision support technology to enable evidence-based treatment decisions and improved outcomes, today announced data that identify and confirm the discovery that ephrin-type B receptor 4 (EPHB4) is an alternative erythropoietin (EPO) receptor. Moreover, it was found that EPHB4 has significant predictive value for guiding EPO use in anemic cancer patients, as patients with tumors expressing EPHB4 are likely to experience poorer outcomes in response to EPO, due to the "triggering" of tumor growth and progression. The results were published online today ahead of print in the peer-reviewed cancer research and oncology journal, Cancer Cell, and will also appear as the cover story of the upcoming November issue.

The publication marks the first time that a study has demonstrated that tumor growth mediated by the cytokine drug class of erythropoietin-stimulating agents (ESAs), including EPO, can be reduced or eliminated by targeting EPHB4. The study confirms that the EPHB4 receptor is a critical mediator of EPO-induced cancer growth. As a result of these findings it will be possible to stratify patients based on their tumoral EPHB4 status and potentially expand treatment options to include ESAs for these patients.

Molecular Health CEO Lutz Voelker said, "We have identified a biomarker that can accurately determine which patients would benefit from EPO therapy and which would suffer detrimentally, a finding that can significantly reduce adverse events among anemic cancer patients. A diagnostic test to identify this biomarker could predict, ahead of treatment, which patients will likely benefit, enabling physicians to help improve the quality of life for their patients."

In the U.S., between 40% and 90% of cancer patients suffer from chemotherapy-induced anemia, but a significant number of these patients are not treated with EPO therapy due to limitations in efficacy and indication restrictions, among other barriers. In 2007 the FDA labeled EPO with a black-box warning due to an increase in adverse events including decreased survival and increased risk of tumor progression and recurrence. As a result, the use of EPO to treat cancer patients with anemia was sharply curtailed because it was not possible to identify which patients would be affected negatively.

David Jackson, a contributing author of the study and Chief Innovation Officer at Molecular Health said, "The Cancer Cell publication validates the research conducted by our team using our computational discovery platform. This data reveals a potentially exciting approach to treat a significant number of cancer patients suffering from anemia for which there is an unmet medical need."

Molecular Health has been granted patents in the U.S. and in Europe, "Tissue Protective Erythropoietin Receptor," as U.S. Patent 8,357,501 and European Patent EP2492355B1, which support the company's earlier discovery that EPHB4 is a novel EPO receptor (NEPORTM), where EPO binds to EPHB4 and promotes tumor growth. The study published in Cancer Cell was initiated by Molecular Health following this discovery by Molecular Health scientists and provides further validation of the evidence reported in these patents. The patent has the potential to be applied for EPO treatment in the indication of cancer-induced anemia. Molecular Health is exploring several commercialization channels for offering a predictive test based upon its patented methods.

The study, "Erythropoietin Stimulates Tumor Growth via EphB4," published online October 15 in Cancer Cell was a collaboration of 46 authors representing Molecular Health as well as five institutions: MD Anderson Cancer Center, Houston TX; The University of Puerto Rico, San Juan; The University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill; Molecular Neurology, Sygnis AG, Heidelberg, Germany; and China Medical University, Taichung, Taiwan.

About Molecular Health

Molecular Health is a leading biomedical company that is transforming molecular data and medical knowledge into actionable clinical information for more efficient and safe targeted therapies for each individual patient. Molecular Health's SafetyMAPTM is a content and analytics solution for drug de-risking and drug safety analysis and for analysis to be used for research by regulatory authorities and the pharmaceutical and health insurance industries. Molecular Health also generates individualized tumor analysis and clinical interpretation for evidence-based targeted therapy identification utilizing published medical knowledge in a clinical context. This analysis is offered in the U.S., utilizing an end-to-end Lab developed Test grounded in next-generation sequencing technology. In Europe, Molecular Health has the first registered medical device of its kind for personalized cancer medicine. Molecular Health Inc., headquartered in Cambridge, Massachusetts, with a laboratory and support center in Greater Houston, Texas, is a wholly owned subsidiary of Molecular Health GmbH, headquartered in Heidelberg, Germany. To learn more, please visit:

CONTACT: Media Contacts U.S.: Mark Rodgers 832-247-3068 EU: Carla Mertens +49 6221 43851-2275

Source:Molecular Health