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Olink Proteomics Expanding Biomarker Offerings, Exploring Development of Proprietary Markers


NEW YORK (GenomeWeb) – Some six months after establishing itself as an independent entity, Olink Proteomics is planning a large expansion of its protein biomarker offerings and exploring the possibility of developing proprietary biomarker content.

The company aims by the end of the year to more than double its current assay offerings, CEO Jon Heimer told GenomeWeb this week. At the same time, it is "dipping its toes" into in-house biomarker development, he added.

The company also this week announced the launch of its immune-oncology biomarker panel, intended for use by researchers and clinicians working on immunotherapy-based cancer treatments.

In April, Uppsala, Sweden-based Olink reorganized into two separate companies — Olink Proteomics and Olink Bioscience. The latter is focused on developing and commercializing various portions of the company's IP portfolio and new technology emerging from its Uppsala University collaborators.

Olink Proteomics, meanwhile, is focused on the company's Proseek Multiplex protein detection system, which is the basis of its protein biomarker business. The Proseek platform uses Olink's proximity elongation assay (PEA), which uses pairs of antibodies linked to DNA strands that, upon antibody binding, are brought into proximity and then extended by a DNA polymerase, creating a new sequence that can be used as a surrogate marker for the target protein.

Because two antibodies must bind to the target protein for a signal to be generated, the assay reduces non-specific binding and background, which increases its sensitivity and specificity compared to conventional immunoassays.

The company runs the assay on Fluidigm's BioMark HD real-time PCR platform, which allows researchers to measure up to 92 proteins in as many as 96 samples per run.

Olink Proteomics' main business is the sale of protein biomarker discovery panels which it offers both as kits for customers to run and as a service it can perform in house. It has released panels for biomarker discovery in inflammatory disease, cardiovascular disease, oncology, neurology, and, most recently, immuno-oncology. It plans by the end of the year to increase its current assay offerings from 460 to around 1,000, Heimer said.

Heimer noted that immunotherapy researchers are still exploring what proteomic data can offer in terms of, for instance, aiding in patient stratification or establishing surrogate endpoints. Olink Proteomics, he said, has hopes that its new panel can prove useful for "both selecting the right patients for targeted therapy and also for monitoring safety and efficacy in those patients."

The panel measures 92 proteins covering different biological functions of importance to immunotherapy research, including promotion and inhibition of tumor immunity, chemotaxis, vascular and tissue remodeling, apoptosis and cell killing, and metabolism and autophagy. At the annual Immuno-Oncology Summit last month in Boston, company representatives presented a case study using the panel as part of a collaboration with researchers at New York City's Mount Sinai Hospital. Data from that study has not yet been published, Heimer said.

Heimer added that the company has begun exploring the possibility of developing its own proprietary biomarker panels, though he said that it was too early to discuss what diseases it planned to target.

Both Olink Biosciences and Olink Proteomics remain headquartered in Uppsala, but Olink Proteomics in May opened an office and laboratory in Watertown, Massachusetts to drive growth of its US business.

Heimer said that the company's European revenues would outpace US revenues in 2016, but that he expected the two geographies would contribute roughly equally to revenues in 2017. Olink Proteomics has nine employees in the US and 60 in Europe.

The company has funded its expansion using proceeds from the sale of its Duolink product portfolio, Heimer said. It sold Duolink to Sigma-Aldrich in 2015 for an undisclosed amount.