Ventana, Bayer to collaborate on companion Dx for cancer

Another week, another big personalized medicine partnership announcement from Ventana Medical Systems. This time, the Roche unit said it will be working with Bayer Pharma on a molecular companion diagnostic test to identify patients who can potentially benefit from a novel antibody-drug conjugate (ADC). No financial details about the deal have been released.

Under the agreement, Ventana will work on developing, manufacturing and commercializing a companion diagnostic test for one of Bayer's ADCs. And during a 5-year period, the partners can choose to start other projects to develop molecular diagnostic tests for additional cancer meds. 

"We are pleased to be Bayer's partner of choice to facilitate the worldwide development of this ADC," said Mara Aspinall, president of Ventana, in a release. "As new biomarkers and diagnostic tests become increasingly available, they provide valuable information about potential positive recipients for these novel agents. Translating excellence in science into effective, targeted treatments for patients is at the core of Roche's scientific vision for 'Personalized Healthcare' (PHC), and it is our highest priority now and into the future."

Ventana certainly has been busy over the last month or so with news of its companion diagnostic agreements with pharma and biotech companies. Just last week, the unit announced that it was working with pharma titan Pfizer ($PFE) and Cell Signaling Technology on a test to identify patients who may benefit from the potential blockbuster Xalkori. The med was approved last summer for non-small cell lung cancer.

The Roche unit previously announced two separate companion diagnostic agreements with AEterna Zentaris and Syndax Pharmaceuticals.

Companion diagnostics has been a hot topic in the post-megablockbuster world. Big Pharma companies are charging hefty prices for their meds (Xalkori, for example, costs $9,600 per month, or $115,200 for a year's worth of treatment) in the hopes that payers will cover their drugs, so long as they're restricted to those patients who are most likely to benefit.

- check out the Ventana release

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