Roche Diagnostics has entered into a collaboration with a biotech startup. The deal will see Roche work with Inotrem to develop an assay for measuring a biomarker correlated to negative outcomes in septic shock patients.
Inotrem is developing an inhibitor of triggering receptor expressed on myeloid cells 1, a protein better known as TREM-1. With that candidate now in phase 2, the French biotech has brought Roche on board to carry out research that could lead to a companion diagnostic for the candidate, Motrem.
The first step is to develop an in vitro prototype assay. Roche will apply its Elecsys platform to the task. In this case, the Big Pharma will use the electrochemiluminescence immunoassay technology to measure levels of soluble TREM-1—called sTREM-1—in plasma samples taken from septic shock patients.
The presence of sTREM-1 is evidence of the activation of the TREM-1 pathway, an amplification loop that causes the hyperactivated immune state that leads to sepsis. Equipped with a test for sTREM-1, doctors could identify patients in whom the immune amplification pathway is activated.
In routine practice, knowing which patients are most at risk of sepsis could improve outcomes. For Inotrem, the more immediate benefit lies in being able to identify which patients to treat with its experimental candidate.
“One of the main issues with septic shock is the heterogeneity of this patient population. This collaboration proposes to develop a test to allow a certain stratification of sepsis patients to ideally identify patients who are more likely to respond to Motrem treatment,” Inotrem CEO Jean-Jacques Garaud said in a statement.
Inotrem and Roche are focused for now on developing a prototype. But, if that goes well, Roche could go on to create and make a companion diagnostic for the acute inflammatory syndrome R&D shop.
The Swiss Big Pharma presented the deal as “Roche Diagnostics’ first collaboration agreement with a startup biotech company.”
However, the deal isn’t the first time a Roche unit has agreed to develop a diagnostic for a company considerably smaller than itself. In 2015, Roche signed up to develop a companion diagnostic to support DalCor Pharmaceuticals’ cardiovascular drug dalcetrapib. And Roche subsidiary Ventana Medical Systems has formed companion diagnostic pacts with biotechs including Incyte and Loxo Oncology.