IGEN hoping to develop heart-disease test Deal with company in Norway might help

Medical technology

July 17, 1998|By Mark Guidera | Mark Guidera,SUN STAFF

Gaithersburg-based IGEN International Inc. said yesterday that it has acquired worldwide licensing rights to an amino acid compound that it hopes to use to develop a breakthrough test for detecting signs of heart disease.

The market for an easy-to-use, accurate test for heart disease could be vast, said analysts, although it is unclear whether the test IGEN hopes to develop would displace electrocardiograms and other sophisticated technology used to detect heart trouble.

Specific terms of IGEN's deal with Medinnova SF of Norway were not disclosed. But George Connelly, vice president for marketing and sales, said the company paid Medinnova an upfront sum for the license and has agreed to royalty payments if IGEN succeeds in commercializing a test.

Publicly held IGEN said it plans to use the amino acid compound, a peptide that Medinnova found is common in people in danger '' lTC of heart failure, to develop a rapid test for the detection of congestive heart failure and related diseases.

Early detection of the disease can help doctors develop early treatment programs, according to the American Medical Association, which estimates that 4.7 million people in the United States suffer from congestive heart failure. An equal number suffer from the disease in Europe.

Physicians use electrocardiograms, blood serum tests and chest radiographs to detect and monitor the disease.

IGEN said it hopes its cardiac test, which would be conducted using a blood sample, might one day be used to screen people to determine whether they have a risk of congestive heart failure or other cardiovascular conditions.

Connelly said the company expects it to take two to three years to develop and study the cardiac test on humans, but that a veterinary test could be available before then.

The company estimates that up to 15 percent of the 45 million dogs that visit veterinarians for treatment in the United States may be in danger of congestive heart failure.

Connelly said it was too early to tell how much the company might charge for the test.

Shares in IGEN closed yesterday at $38, down $1.

IGEN said this week that it had launched field studies of a test it has developed for the E. coli bacteria in meat.

Pub Date: 7/17/98

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