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Sunday, 06 December 2015 22:51

Armune inks deal to market prostate cancer test as it positions for $25M fundraising round

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KALAMAZOO — An agreement with a Canadian company will significantly expand sales and marketing efforts for Armune Bioscience Inc. and its new blood test for prostate cancer that hit the market this year.

Under the co-marketing deal, Quebec City-based Aeterna Zenteris Inc. will market Armune’s Apifiny blood test alongside its own products as it meets with health systems and large medical groups across the U.S. The company will also begin moving the test into Europe, potentially in 2016.

“We’re going to work together to commercialize Apifiny,” said David Esposito, CEO of Kalamazoo-based Armune. “It significantly expands our marketing efforts around Apifiny in the U.S. and opens the door for our European expansion.”

The company continues to raise $4 million in a Series A financing round, so far netting $3.25 million, and is “moving aggressively” into a $25 million Series B round to expand the business in the U.S. and globally, Esposito said. He’s lining up a number of meetings with prospective investors at a health care investor conference in mid-January in San Francisco sponsored by JPMorgan.

Since launching Apifiny in April, Armune Bioscience has marketed the test primarily to smaller, independent primary care and urology medical practices. Through the marketing deal with Aeterna Zenteris, the company gains access to “broader health systems,” Esposito said.

“In the early stage of the business, you have to go where you can get the opportunity relatively quickly and that’s where we’ve been,” he said. “The sales cycles are much longer for the large, integrated networks, so (Aeterna Zenteris) will be able to give us penetration to those big integrated networks around the country.”

Armune Bioscience has so far sold about 2,500 tests and should exceed “well over” 3,000 by the end of December, Esposito said. The company has sold the test to more than 300 clinicians across the country.

“That launch has significantly exceeded our expectations,” Esposito said. “We’re delivering on our 2015 milestones, for sure.”

Using technology licensed from the University of Michigan, the Apifiny blood test checks for biomarkers that indicate the presence of prostate cancer in patients. The test works by detecting the antibodies produced when the body’s immune system recognizes a cancer antigen.

Armune Bioscience, formed in 2008, sells the blood test to physicians and health systems. Returned samples are tested in Ann Arbor at a diagnostic lab that opened last spring.

The deal with Aeterna Zenteris includes doing research and development on expanding the Apifiny platform into companion diagnostic tests in oncology. Aeterna Zenteris develops and commercializes treatments for oncology, endocrinology and women’s health.

Armune Bioscience will work closely to further develop an Aeterna Zenteris test called Zoptrex for patient selection and monitoring that has been involved in phase II trials.

Armune also has begun signing reimbursement agreements with commercial health insurers to pay for the Apifiny blood test. Insurers are reimbursing the company $400 to $500 per test.

Read 6134 times Last modified on Wednesday, 16 December 2015 00:04

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