Cancer Fighting Company Expands
A company dedicated to fighting cancer in western Massachusetts is expanding.
Pittsfield-based Nuclea Biotechnologies has acquired and will assume all the assets of WILEX, Inc. also known as Oncogene Science. Oncogene operates out of Cambridge and is a subsidiary of WILEX, AG a biopharmaceutical company in Munich, Germany. Nuclea specializes in harvesting cancerous tissue samples and loading thousands of pieces of information into a database. Pat Muraca is the company’s CEO. He spoke with WAMC News in 2011 during a previous expansion.
“Say we have a problem where we’re looking at a specific drug, where patients respond or patients don’t respond and they have the same disease,” Muraca said. “We can take a look at those patients, we compare their genetic profiles and we can look for differences. Why does this patient respond and why does this patient not respond even though they’re the same? We can extrapolate those differences.”
Oncogene Science specializes in serum-based oncoprotein diagnostics and provides the only FDA-cleared test for the measurement of the serum used in the management and monitoring of patients with metastatic breast cancer. In addition, the company offers an immunohistochemistry kit used to identify the antigen that plays an important role in various types of cancer. Part of the reason for the move is an existing agreement and working relationship between the two companies to develop a test for clear cell renal cell carcinoma. Nuclea will bear the cost of the $2.5 million project. Professor Olaf Wilhelm is the CEO of WILEX, AG.
“It’s an expansion of the current collaboration,” Wilhelm said. “I’m very pleased it worked out at the end of the day.”
Wilhelm says the future work to be led by Nuclea at the Cambridge manufacturing facility will compliment the work WILEX does in Germany.
“It’s very positive for Oncogene Science, but also it very clearly expands our collaboration in the development of the companion diagnostic which we need for our further development,” said Wilhelm.”
The eleven workers at Cambridge will become part of Nuclea and Muraca says he hopes to add seven additional workers to join with the 34 employees in Pittsfield. Muraca says the acquisition will make the company more efficient.
“Now we have a manufacturing center that we can do our own manufacturing, we don’t have to use a third party source,” Muraca said. “Doing it ourselves, it speeds things up by about six months or so. It gets these tests into the marketplace quicker so patients can actually utilize these.”
Muraca says Nuclea’s work fits into the style of 21st century medicine.
“Personalized medicine is the buzz word we are all using now,” Muraca said. “We have to tailor make therapies for specific patients. The only way to be able to do that is to understand what their genome and their proteome is doing. The only way to look at those is to be able to have a piece of tissue and be able to look at all the different genes and all the different proteins within that person.”
Nuclea has also developed diagnostic tests for colon, breast, leukemia, lung and prostate cancer used in the medical field. Also, the company performs research leading to molecular oncology companion diagnostics for the pharmaceutical and biotechnology industries. Nuclea is also developing companion diagnostics for other disease indications such as cardiovascular, neurological, inflammation and metabolic disorders.