Roche's Ventana to concoct companion Dx tests for Incyte's cancer drugs

Roche's ($RHHBY) Ventana Medical Systems will pair off with drug developer Incyte ($INCY) to create companion diagnostic tests designed to work with the company's cancer drugs. Once again, the personalized medicine movement moves forward.

As is typical with these kinds of deals, neither side is disclosing financial details. It begins initially, however, with a focus on Incyte's IDO1 inhibitor program, and then expands over time to other oncology drugs under development. Ventana contributes its companion diagnostics background and immunohistochemistry technology know-how to the collaboration.

Victor Sandor, Incyte's group vice president for clinical development, said in a statement that the company chose Ventana "based on their strong scientific knowledge and development expertise" on the companion diagnostics side of things. Ventana also has plenty of experience in how to handle premarket approval submissions, which can be a pretty complex and arduous process.

Drug companies are increasingly developing new treatments with companion diagnostic tests in mind, particularly in the cancer space. And there aren't a tremendous number of companion diagnostics developers out there, so they look for experienced partners. That means Roche/Ventana scores again in what could end up being a major, lucrative deal over time.

Ventana said it is currently working on more than 150 companion diagnostic-related collaborative projects.

Just in September, Ventana agreed to link up with Germany's Boehringer Ingelheim to develop new companion diagnostic tests for new cancer drugs. The company is also working with Bayer, Pfizer ($PFE) and Takeda's Millennium unit, among others. Roche snatched up Ventana, a tissue diagnostics company, for $3.4 billion in 2008. Ventana's latest companion diagnostics agreement gives Roche yet another reason to celebrate the investment.

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