Molecular diagnostics firm Biocartis has entered into a collaboration agreement with Merck to develop and commercialize new liquid biopsy RAS biomarker test to treat patients with metastatic colorectal cancer (mCRC).

The test will be developed on Biocartis’ automated molecular diagnostics system Idylla, which is said to provide accurate molecular information from virtually any biological sample in almost any setting.

The Idylla system is a fully automated sample-to-result PCR-based (polymerase chain reaction) molecular diagnostics system, which carries out sensitive molecular diagnostic tests.

With two cartridges, the Idylla RAS test will detect an extended panel of RAS mutations.

Merck biopharma business chief marketing and strategy officer Rehan Verjee said: "Through this collaboration, our desire is to have more metastatic colorectal cancer patients gain access to liquid biopsy RAS testing, regardless of their geographical location."

Biocartis CEO Rudi Pauwels added: "Today, complex diagnostic laboratory infrastructure and specialized expertise requirements are important barriers when it comes to the implementation of personalized medicine on a global scale."

Both firms are developing the new test to support clinical practice in carrying out integrated liquid biopsy RAS biomarker tests, independently of the laboratories’ volume of testing or level of expertise.

The new test will also offer a BRAF V600 mutation analysis directly integrated with the Idylla RAS test, allowing clinicians to assess BRAF and RAS mutation status simultaneously.

The firms intend to implement the Idylla liquid biopsy RAS test in multiple medical centers across the world, excluding the US, China and Japan.