QUIAGEN, a global provider of molecular Sample & Assay Technologies, recently announced a new collaboration with drug developer AstraZeneca in order to further develop and commercialize a liquid biopsy-based companion diagnostic complementing IRESSA, AstraZeneca’s targeted therapy for non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC).
IRESSA is an epidermal growth factor receptor-tyrosine kinase (EGFR-TK) inhibitor that impedes cancer cell growth and survival, especially if the tumor cells present EGFR gene mutations, which happens in the majority of lung cancers.
The collaboration between the two companies is designed to create a test that is able to detect 21 EGFR mutations, thus identifying patients that are more sensitive to this therapy, increasing the potential of treatment benefits.
The diagnostic test will be an adaptation of the FDA approved QUIAGEN technology therascreen® EGFR RGQ PCR Kit, and will analyze plasma samples to detect EGFR mutations in NSCLC patients. This in turn will allow for IRESSA treatment guidance when tumor tissue is not available for biopsies, avoiding invasive surgical intervention to collect tissue samples.
So far, there has been several pieces of data collected from clinical studies that confirm the capacity to detect EGFR levels of advanced lung cancer patients using blood or plasma samples, positively impacting those patients who cannot undergo surgical biopsy by allowing the analysis of their EGFR mutation status.
“By combining AstraZeneca’s expertise in lung cancer with QIAGEN’s diagnostic capabilities, we have the potential to transform the way specific tumor types are identified and treated. The use of circulating tumour DNA testing will allow doctors to target the individual needs of each patient quickly and accurately,” said Mondher Mahjoubi, Senior Vice President, Global Product Strategy for Oncology at AstraZeneca, in a QUIAGEN press release.
“We are very pleased to collaborate with AstraZeneca in developing this new tool to improve life for lung cancer patients. This collaboration will further expand QIAGEN’s rapidly growing portfolio of liquid biopsy solutions for personalized healthcare, which paves a path for patient monitoring using blood tests for future QIAGEN therascreen® companion diagnostics. We are changing the treatment landscape with highly reliable genomic tests based on blood samples or other body fluids, providing physicians and patients with additional options to determine treatments and monitor progress,” said Peer M. Schatz, Chief Executive Officer of QIAGEN, in the company’s press release. “This new project with AstraZeneca under our master collaboration agreement, one of several such Pharma partnerships, adds to our expanding portfolio of reliable companion diagnostics which are creating valuable test content for the QIAsymphony family of automated instruments. As tests are developed, commercialization is accelerated through the established network of laboratories already using assays in QIAGEN’s industry-leading portfolio of companion diagnostics.”
In addition to this collaboration, QIAGEN has also agreed to develop first-in-class, non-invasive diagnostics for key genetic biomarkers in lung and other cancers with Exosome Diagnostics, another promising symbiosis with the potential to explore new avenues in lung cancer diagnostics and therapies.