Abbott (NYSE: ABT) announced today that it will expand its existing agreement with GlaxoSmithKline Biologicals S.A. (GSK) to include the development of an additional companion diagnostic test in support of GSK’s cancer immunotherapy research program. Companion diagnostic tests are designed to identify specific DNA sequences to help guide physicians in determining which patients are more or less likely to benefit from a particular therapy.
The existing agreements between the two companies, announced in July 2009 and March 2010, focused on the development of PCR (polymerase chain reaction) tests to screen non-small cell lung cancer and melanoma tumors for expression of the MAGE-A3 antigen. Under the expanded agreement, Abbott will develop a PCR test for use on the Abbott m2000rt™ instrument to screen non-small cell lung cancer tumors for the expression of the PRAME antigen. PRAME is a preferentially expressed antigen of melanoma that is expressed in 69 percent of non-small cell lung cancer cases, as well as in a wide variety of cancer types, including melanoma, breast, ovarian, and bladder cancer, with limited expression in normal cells.
“This expanded collaboration, along with Abbott’s other recently announced partnerships in oncology, demonstrates the continued commitment Abbott is making to assess biomarkers linked to immunotherapies in various cancers,” said Stafford O’Kelly, head of Abbott’s molecular diagnostics business. “This agreement is a testament to the scientific advances Abbott and the industry is making in personalized medicine and companion diagnostics, which are helping ensure the right medicines get to the right cancer patients.”
Molecular Tests for Oncology
Abbott’s development efforts in areas such as MAGE-A3 and PRAME will further build its leadership position in cancer diagnostics and personalized medicine. Abbott is a pioneer in the use of molecular tests based on PCR and fluorescence in situ hybridization (FISH) technologies to aid clinicians in the selection of appropriate pharmacogenomic therapies.