Qiagen and Lilly continue successful string of diagnostics partnerships

Qiagen CEO Peer Schatz

Qiagen ($QGEN) and Eli Lilly ($LLY) have joined forces for their fourth companion diagnostics project, building on the momentum of past collaborations to develop assay panels for cancer.

The companies will work together to create modular assay panels that can simultaneously analyze DNA and RNA biomarkers involved in common types of cancer. Qiagen will use its Modaplex analysis platform to process multiple sample types and biomarkers in a single test, cutting down on costs and speeding up lab processing, the company said in a statement.

"We are excited to add a new stage to our successful collaboration with Lilly, this time co-developing a broad panel of molecular assays covering a range of biomarkers with diverse nucleic acid analytes and modalities to guide the use of tailored therapies," said CEO Peer Schatz. "We believe our technology can enhance Lilly's development of innovative therapies for the benefit of cancer patients."

Qiagen and Lilly bring a string of successful partnerships to the table, as the companies have collaborated over the years to develop companion diagnostic tests for cancer. In November, Qiagen teamed up with Lilly to create a customized molecular diagnostic test to identify suitable patients for one of Lilly's in-development cancer compounds. In 2012, the companies won high-profile tandem approvals of Lilly and Bristol-Myer Squibb's ($BMY) cancer treatment Erbitux and a Qiagen companion test, and partnered a year before to roll out a complementary diagnostic for Lilly's investigative JAK2 inhibitor.

Its partnership with Lilly is not the only diagnostics deal Qiagen has in the works. The company has more than 20 co-development and co-commercialization projects underway, including its collaboration with Exosome Diagnostics to develop noninvasive molecular in vitro diagnostics to detect lung cancer. In late May, the Dutch company scored FDA approval for its KRAS test to identify patients with metastatic colorectal cancer who might benefit from Amgen's ($AMGN) frontline treatment drug Vectibix.

Qiagen's frequent diagnostic collaborations seem to be paying off. The company reported adjusted net income of $53.7 million in its first quarter, with net sales increasing 4.5% year over year and a 1% growth for its molecular diagnostics unit.

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