Genomic Health, OncoMed to pursue companion diagnostics

We've told you before: molecular diagnostics in general, and companion diagnostics in particular, are all the rage right now, with collaboration deals (and acquisition targets) up and down the diagnostic/drug company food chain. This trend continues with Genomic Health and OncoMed Pharmaceuticals announcing they have signed an agreement to identify new biomarkers useful for future companion diagnostics to go along with the latter's cancer drugs now in development.

Neither company is discussing money here: they declined to disclose financial terms. But here's the gist: OncoMed will give Genomic Health samples of breast, prostate, colon and lung tumors, some of which will be taken from its proprietary bank of xenograft models. In turn, Genomic Health will use its molecular diagnostics mojo to ferret out any biomarkers that would work best for personalized medicine-focused cancer treatments. Those biomarkers would enable clinicians to pick patient subsets likely to respond best to drugs targeting certain molecular pathways crucial for cancer stem cells.

Companion diagnostics are the way to go in the future, Genomic Health CMO Steven Shak said in a statement, echoing the sentiments of execs from other companies. He also emphasized how his company can aid "like-minded" partners in the fight against cancer.

"We can utilize our proven [next-generation sequencing]-based diagnostic research and development infrastructure to help optimize patient selection to accelerate clinical development of targeted cancer treatments," Shak noted.

In other words, the companion diagnostics push makes molecular diagnostics companies immensely valuable for both their products and their potential (and ripe for acquisition). Indeed, Genomic Health's name may well continue to pop up in M&A rumors that percolate as the field keeps heating up. Insiders considered Genomic Health a viable takeover target earlier this year during Roche's ($RHHBY) hostile (and ultimately failed) takeover bid for DNA sequencer/diagnostics darling Illumina ($ILMN). It is likely those insiders haven't changed their minds.

- here's the release