Insight Genetics has entered into an exclusive, worldwide licensing agreement with St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital for a genetic test known as the KIR/KIR-Ligand Assay. The test helps to predict the success of bone marrow transplants by identifying the optimal bone marrow donor subtype. Use of the KIR/KIR-Ligand Assay has been shown to prevent the return of cancer in transplant recipients and reduce risk of death following bone marrow transplantation by about 60%.
Each year, more than 18,000 Americans are diagnosed with life-threatening illnesses for which bone marrow transplants are the best treatment option. Millions of individuals are registered as potential bone marrow donors, but effectively matching a patient in need of a transplant with the right donors is a difficult process.
The KIR/KIR-Ligand test was developed by Wing Leung, MD, PhD, Rafijul Bari, PhD, and colleagues as part of their research to determine the impact of variations in the KIR2DL1 gene. The group focused on forms of KIR2DL1 carried by natural killer (NK) cells, special immune cells that kill abnormal cells such as cancer cells. They found that some forms of KIR2DL1 in NK cells are more active than others, and NK cells carrying the stronger form of KIR2DL1 can destroy cancer cells more effectively than the NK cells with the less active form. Read the study abstract.