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AstraZeneca in new collaborations

AstraZeneca has entered a new collaboration with Dutch Qiagen and a partnership with Roche.

The company has entered into a collaboration with Netherlands-based Qiagen to develop a non-invasive diagnostic test to identify non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) patients who are suitable for treatment with IRESSA, an epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) tyrosine kinase inhibitor that blocks the signals from the EGFR, which leads to tumour growth.

According to AstraZeneca, Qiagen’s test uses a highly sensitive assay to detect EGFR mutations in the small fragments of circulating tumour DNA (ctDNA) in plasma taken from patients’ blood samples. The test has demonstrated robust and reliable identification of EGFR mutation status using samples from the Phase IV IRESSA Follow Up Measure (IFUM) study. The two companies are now seeking approval from the European Medicines Agency for the ctDNA test, as a companion diagnostic for IRESSA.

“By combining AstraZeneca’s expertise in lung cancer with QIAGEN’s diagnostic capabilities, we have the potential to transform the way specific tumour types are identified and treated. The use of circulating tumour DNA testing will allow doctors to target the individual needs of each patient quickly and accurately,” said Mondher Mahjoubi, Senior Vice President, Global Product Strategy for Oncology at AstraZeneca, in a press release.

AstraZeneca also announced on July 28 that it has entered into collaboration with Roche to develop a plasma-based companion diagnostic test to support AZD9291, AstraZeneca’s investigational compound in clinical development for non-small-cell lung cancer. The test is designed to identify epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) mutations in both tumour tissue and plasma derived from patients with NSCLC, and to optimise the clinical development of AZD9291 for patients who are resistant to first-generation EGFR tyrosine kinase inhibitors (TKI).

“Currently, late-stage lung cancer patients have to undergo surgery to collect tissue from a tumor so it can be sent for molecular testing. In some cases, collecting enough tissue for testing is not possible. This collaboration will enable molecular testing through plasma specimens and provide the information needed to inform treatment decisions without the complications of surgery, consequently increasing the level of care clinicians can give to the patient,” said Paul Brown, Head of Roche Molecular Diagnostics (RMD).