Myriad ups companion Dx focus with BioMarin cancer drug collaboration

Utah's Myriad Genetics ($MYGN) sealed its second deal with BioMarin Pharmaceutical ($BMRN) involving the use of one of its tests to aid in the development of a new cancer drug. The agreement underscores the Utah company's growing focus on companion diagnostics-related business.

Neither side disclosed financial terms. But for their second go around, Myriad's Homologous Recombination Deficiency (HRD) test to spot tumors will help identify patients who might respond to BioMarin's investigational cancer drug BMD-673, a compound designed to hit advanced tumors with DNA-repair pathway deficiency. The test becomes a de facto companion diagnostic in this case because HRD can make it harder for tumors to repair double-stranded DNA breaks. Identifying those situations then puts patients in a position to greatly benefit from BMD-673, the company said.

Separately, Myriad's BRACAnalysis test is already in play to aid in BioMarin's development of a new breast cancer drug.

There are a number of other deals at work that put Myriad solidly in the companion diagnostics-related sphere. Myriad, for example, has already contributed its HRD test to PharmaMar's development of a new cancer drug.  A company spokesman told FierceDiagnostics that Myriad is additionally working with two other as-yet-unnamed pharmaceutical companies using its HRD test for the development of new treatments. Myriad also has a number of companion diagnostic deals set with pharmaceutical companies focused on the protein biomarker space, he said.

Plus, Myriad already has companion diagnostic collaborative deals in place relying on its BRACAnalysis or HRD tests with AstraZeneca ($AZN), AbbVie ($ABBV), Cephalon and Tesaro, according to the company.

Myriad has focused this fall on releasing a number of new diagnostic tests, focused, respectively on melanoma skin biopsies, multiple forms of hereditary cancer and early-stage lung cancer. Separately, Myriad is pursuing multiple lawsuits against various rivals, accusing them of violating patents involving its BRACAnalysis test, which measures the risk for hereditary breast and ovarian cancer. A U.S. Supreme Court decision over the summer ruled companies could not obtain a patent on human genes but could do so with genes tweaked in the lab, which invalidated some patients and upheld others.

The decision opened the door for rivals including Quest Diagnostics ($DGX), Bioreference Laboratories, Gene By Gene and Ambry Genetics to launch competing tests, all of which are now the focal point of Myriad lawsuits.

- read the release
- here's FierceMedicalDevices' take

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