Roche and Bayer expand their companion Dx partnership into multiple projects

Roche's ($RHHBY) Ventana Medical Systems and Bayer Pharma have decided to extend and expand a companion diagnostic collaboration first launched in 2012, another steady advance in personalized medicine.

Their new multiyear deal will focus on developing immunohistochemistry-related companion diagnostics linked to a number of Bayer's targeted treatments under development, the companies said in their joint announcement.

As these deals often go, neither side is publicly disclosing financial details. But both parties will focus on developing molecular diagnostic tests for specific Bayer biomarker-targeted treatments, and they'll team up from early discovery through commercialization. Roche/Ventana plans to contribute a team of experts that will be assigned to Bayer for the project.

This deal reflects the reality that it takes time to nurture companion diagnostics and drug development projects in tandem, and it also showcases the growing confidence both sides increasingly have in joint development projects such as this. Back in 2012 when Bayer and Ventana first became sweet on each other, they started small, focusing on a single companion diagnostic test that would help find patients who could benefit most from a novel antibody-drug conjugate to treat cancer. Their larger deal raises the stakes considerably but also reflects confidence that a drug/companion diagnostic will increasingly become a normal part of healthcare.

Roche/Ventana has pursued a steady increase of companion diagnostic deals over the last two years with companies including Takeda's Millennium unit, Germany's Boehringer Ingelheim and Pfizer ($PFE), among others. Roche/Ventana said that its growing reputation in the space makes it a desirable partner.

"These types of agreements are for pharmaceutical companies that have made companion diagnostics core to their development platform," Doug Ward, Ventana's vice president for companion diagnostics, said in a statement. "Bayer chose Ventana because they want a partner that is prepared to deliver."

- read the release

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