Oncor Inc., the Gaithersburg-based producer of genetics-based medical testing kits, has acquired worldwide licensing rights to the Johns Hopkins University's newly developed methods of detecting cancer through tests on bodily fluids, the company said yesterday.
The license is Oncor's first exercise of a "right of first licensing" that it holds for medical discoveries produced under a three-year "sponsored research" contract the firm signed with Hopkins about 1 1/2 years ago, Stephen Turner, the firm's chief executive officer, said yesterday.
Under the research contract, Oncor has provided about $1.5 million for research by the laboratory of a Hopkins professor, David Sidransky, who reported on the new method in yesterday's issue of Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
The tests, which are still far from being ready for marketing, promise eventually to provide simple, economical and painless methods of discovering cancers that today can be detected only by such methods as biopsies or insertion of probes or other objects into the urinary tract or bowels.
The tests not only would be painless but also would detect tumors at far earlier stages, opening the opportunity for much earlier monitoring and treatment, Mr. Turner said.
"This is the first, but there are several other things going on in Dr. Sidransky's laboratory that we are watching very closely. Dr. Sidransky is developing the most exciting new methods that I've ever seen," Mr. Turner said.
Oncor stock was unchanged at $6 on the Nasdaq stock market yesterday.