Abbott makes new lung-cancer biomarker test kit available

Abbott ($ABT) is introducing a new molecular test in the EU and New Zealand that identifies biomarkers for a kind of non-small-cell lung cancer (NSCLC), the company announced in a release. The test looks for "rearrangements" in a gene called anaplastic lymphoma kinase (ALK), which is associated with the formation of cancerous tumors in patients with NSCLC. Abbott provides the diagnostic used to identify patients with ALK-positive NSCLC who are candidates for Pfizer's ($PFE) newly FDA-approved drug Xalkori.

According to Abbott, NSCLC accounts for about 85% of all lung cancer cases. Patients are usually diagnosed with advanced disease and have a lower survival rate. That is why finding a biomarker for the disease is extremely important. The ALK test uses Abbott's fluorescence in situ hybridization technology to detect rearrangements of the ALK gene on the 2p23 chromosome in tumors, the company said. Still, it's understood that ALK is a tumor driver in only 1% to 7% of NSCLC cases.

"A better understanding of the underlying molecular mechanisms of lung cancer may lead to improvements in the treatment of the disease," Stafford O'Kelly, head of Abbott's molecular diagnostics business, said in a release "Developing new tests that identify genetic biomarkers in non-small-cell lung cancer and other types of disease is critical to advancing patient care around the world and remains an important scientific focus for Abbott."

- read the release