Owkin and MSD to collaborate on cancer diagnostics

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Artificial intelligence (AI) biotech firm Owkin has formed a collaboration with MSD, the tradename of Merck, to develop and commercialize AI-powered digital microsatellite instability high (MSI-H) pathology cancer diagnostics for EU markets.

The financial terms of the agreement have not been disclosed.

The collaboration seeks to develop a pre-screening procedure to improve testing for MSI-H in endometrial, gastric, small intestinal, and biliary cancers, using Paris-based Owkin's MSIntuit CRC assay.

“This strategic alliance with MSD is focused on improving the way patients are diagnosed and receive treatment, advancing our shared mission of supporting healthcare providers in their adoption of innovative digital diagnostics. It is clear that there is a need for AI diagnostics that can both ease bottlenecks and resource pressures while also ramping up biomarker testing to match patients with optimal treatments,” said Meriem Sefta, Owkin’s chief diagnostics officer, in the company’s statement.

The MSIntuit CRC assay is an AI-powered CE-marked test developed for prescreening colorectal cancer (CRC) patients. Owkin plans to develop MSIntuit for the four other cancer types, using multimodal patient data from academic centers and hospitals.

MSI is a critical biomarker that represents a defect in a cell’s ability to correct errors occurring when DNA is replicated. MSI phenotyping is also essential for both the management and prognosis evaluation of hereditary CRCs.

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