Roche, Merck form diagnostics collaboration

Diagnostics leader Roche and Merck, known as MSD outside the United States and Canada, have entered into a collaboration with the goal of applying and developing diagnostic assays for use with Merck’s investigational cancer therapy portfolio.

Kelsey Kaustinen
WHITEHOUSE STATION, N.J. & PLEASANTON,Calif.—Diagnostics leader Roche and Merck, known as MSD outside the UnitedStates and Canada, have entered into a collaboration with the goal of applyingand developing diagnostic assays for use with Merck's investigational cancertherapy portfolio. No financial terms for the collaboration were disclosed.
 
Per the terms of the agreement, Roche Diagnostics willprovide diagnostic assays for Merck to utilize in the clinical oncologyprograms the company is conducting. In addition, Merck will further the usageof Roche's AmpliChip p53 assay in order to determine patients most suitable totake part in trials. Roche's AmpliChip p53 assay utilizes both Roche's PCRtechnology and Affymetrix's high-density microarray technology and is designedto detect p53 DNA damage in tumor cells, which can aid in singling out cellsthat might possess damaged p53 and therefore be treatment resistant.
 
 
"We are very pleased to showcase our leadership position inpersonalized healthcare by entering into this agreement with Merck. Roche hopesthat, through our joint efforts, we will be able to provide companiondiagnostic tests which lead to better solutions for patients worldwide," saidPaul Brown, Head of Roche Molecular Diagnostics, a press release.
 
The terms regarding Roche's AmpliChip p53 assay stem from apreviously announced collaboration between Roche and Merck. Additional terms ofthe latest collaboration include that the two companies will apply technologiessuch as array and immunohistochemical (IHC/ISH) technologies. Roche Diagnosticswill be responsible for providing Merck with validated, standardized assaysthat Merck can employ in their clinical oncology programs.
 
 
"Effective use of companion diagnostics is an importantcomponent of our oncology development strategy focused on targeted therapies,"Gary Gilliland, M.D., Ph.D., senior vice president and head of oncologyresearch at Merck, said in a press release. "This collaboration provides Merckwith access to diverse developmental and commercial diagnostic technologiesthat will facilitate the identification and monitoring of those patients mostlikely to respond to our investigational cancer therapies."
 
 
The collaboration is the most recent aspect of a longrelationship between the two companies, following Merck and Roche's recentco-promotion agreement, announced last month, in which the two teamed up topromote Victrelis, Merck's hepatitis C drug. The co-promotion agreement wasformed as Victrelis goes up against Incivek, or telaprevir, VertexPharmaceuticals Inc.'s recently approved hepatitis C treatment.
 
 
Roche's collaboration with Merck is the most recent of itspartnerships with other giants in the industry. Roche has also entered into aclinical collaboration agreement with Bristol-Myers Squibb Company to evaluatethe efficacy of Bristol-Myers Squibb's CLTA-4 inhibitor in combination withRoche's investigation oral BRAF inhibitor for the treatment of metastaticmelanoma.


Kelsey Kaustinen

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