Healthcare company GRAIL has entered into a strategic partnership with AstraZeneca to develop and commercialise companion diagnostic (CDx) assays for use with AstraZeneca’s therapies.

The partnership will begin with developing companion diagnostic tests to identify individuals with high-risk, early-stage cancer, with plans to conduct several studies across multiple indications over the next few years.

The two companies also plan to leverage GRAIL’s technology to help AstraZeneca recruit individuals with early-stage cancer for clinical trials.

GRAIL Biopharma Business and Europe president Sir Harpal Kumar said: “GRAIL has developed a novel approach to detect cancer signals in blood, regardless of whether or not the patient has clinical symptoms.

“We are excited to embark on this work with AstraZeneca to transform cancer outcomes through a broad, strategic collaboration.

“Through our collaboration, we hope to provide critical information to improve the identification of patients who may be eligible for clinical trials and change clinical paradigms for the treatment of early-stage cancers.”

As part of the collaboration, GRAIL will use its methylation platform to examine individuals enrolled in AstraZeneca clinical trials across all of the programmes.

The firm will also seek regulatory approval for liquid biopsy companion diagnostics in key markets.

AstraZeneca Oncology R&D executive vice president Susan Galbraith said: “Identifying and treating cancer early is at the heart of this strategic collaboration.

“Combining GRAIL’s innovative blood-based methylation profiling platform with AstraZeneca’s leadership in Oncology, we hope to accelerate the adoption of circulating tumour DNA across clinical trials and make our cancer medicines available at an earlier stage of disease when there is greater potential to transform patient outcomes, and even cure.”

GRAIL is developing its patented methylation platform for application in a variety of post-diagnostic scenarios.

The platform aims to improve circulating tumour DNA testing so that early-stage cancer and minimum residual disease can be detected (MRD).