Abbott commits to companion Dx development for a promising Idera drug

Abbott Laboratories ($ABT) will develop a companion diagnostic test for a lymphoma/autoimmune drug now in clinical testing at Idera Pharmaceuticals ($IDRA).

Neither side is disclosing financial details. But Illinois-based Abbott will focus on producing an in vitro companion diagnostic test that can be paired with Idera's IMO-8400 in clinical trials to treat patients with certain genetic iterations of B-cell lymphoma. The test will use polymerase chain reaction tech to spot the presence of the MyD88 L265P mutation, which apparently activates a toll-like receptor (TLR) pathway targeted by IMO-8400.

Cambridge, MA-based Idera is pushing full speed ahead with development of IMO-8400, and not just as a treatment for B-cell lymphoma. In March, the company disclosed that a Phase II trial testing the drug on 32 patients with plaque psoriasis met its primary endpoint of safety and a secondary goal of clinical activity.

Abbott's investment in another companion diagnostics deal, meanwhile, reflects its latest bet on med tech products over in-house drugs and other divisions. Last year, Abbott spun off its proprietary drug business into AbbVie ($ABBV), leaving it with a slumping medical devices arm focused on vascular technologies, plus nutrition, generic drugs and diagnostics. Of late, Abbott's diagnostics unit has been the only consistent sales driver. Interestingly, Reuters reported earlier this month that Abbott may be trying to sell part of its still fairly large genetic drug division, with a plan of focusing more on diagnostics, which continues to grow like crazy.

Idera Chief Medical Officer Dr. Lou Brenner said in a statement that his company sees Abbott as "a leader in companion diagnostics." Success in this latest deal may help Abbott to see itself the same way and pare down other remaining nondiagnostic divisions that aren't showing as much potential for growth and expansion.

- read the release

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