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Biocept, Catalyst Pharmaceuticals Ink Deal for Liquid Biopsy Technology

NEW YORK (GenomeWeb) – Catalyst Pharmaceuticals has signed an agreement to use Biocept's Target Selector liquid biopsy platform to screen for cancer in patients enrolled in a clinical trial of its rare disease drug Firdapse (amifampridine phosphate).

Firdapse is currently approved in the EU to treat Lambert-Eaton myasthenic syndrome (LEMS), a rare autoimmune disease often associated with malignancies such as small cell lung cancer. Catalyst holds the drug's North American rights.

Under the terms of their deal, Catalyst will use the Target Selector platform to screen LEMS patients enrolled in an ongoing US Phase III trial of Firdapse for early signals of small cell lung cancer. Testing will be offered every six month for up to two years, at no cost to the patient.

Additional terms were not disclosed.

"About half of LEMS patients have an underlying cancer associated with their disease, and we understand that this can be a source of patient anxiety," Catalyst Chief Medical Officer Gary Ingenito said in a statement. "Therefore, we are taking the extra step to enable our patients to determine if they express circulating tumor cells, so that further assessment can be performed."

Biocept President and CEO Michael Nall added that the deal with Catalyst is expected to help further validate the clinical utility of Target Selector. In recent months, the company has formed a number of collaborations to evaluate the platform in cancer patients including ones with Columbia University, the University of Minnesota, and MedStar Georgetown University Hospital.